Ryanair denies 'harsh' treatment of senior pilot
A RYANAIR official denies it was "unreasonably harsh" by refusing to grant a senior pilot paid leave to move his family from France to Lithuania following the closure of the company's hub in Marseilles.
Peter Bellew, the airline's Deputy Director of Flight Operations, told the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) that only two people would be authorised to give pilots "free paid time off" under any circumstances.
These would be CEO Michael O'Leary or the airline's Director of Flight Operations David O'Brien. And he told the tribunal that he wouldn't even consider such a request.
"I can't give people free paid time off," he said at the continuation of an unfair dismissal claim lodged by former senior pilot Morgan Fischer.
"I wouldn't do that. The only people who could even think about it would be David O'Brien or Michael O'Leary.
"I could ask, but I wouldn't," he said under cross-examination by Michael Landers, Assistant General Secretary of the IMPACT trade union.
Capt Morgan Fischer (45), an American who is currently based in Miami, Florida, as a pilot for American Airlines, claims he was constructively dismissed by the airline.
He claims he was "sent to Siberia" on reduced pay following the closure of the airline's base in Marseilles in the south of France in October 2010.
He was one of 25 pilots and co-pilots working at the French base required to transfer to other European bases after Ryanair closed down the hub following a dispute with French authorities.
However, Mr Fischer resigned from the airline after he was offered a transfer to Kaunas, Lithuania, a distance of 2,000km away from his previous post that included a €16,000 reduction in his gross annual salary of approximately €125,000, the tribunal heard.
Mr Fischer, who worked for Ryanair for five years, did not nominate a preferred base for transfer, claiming he was unaware he was required to do so.
But he claimed the company acted unreasonably when he requested five days of paid leave and moving expenses to move from his former home in Aix-en-Provence near Marseilles to Kaunas, Lithuania.
He said this followed the difficult birth of his child just weeks before the hub closed.
Mr Bellew said a clause in the company's contract with pilots stipulates that the airline reserves the right to transfer pilots to its 27 other European bases without financial compensation.
However, he denied that refusing Mr Fischer's leave request was "unreasonably harsh".
"He was extraordinarily well paid," he told the tribunal, adding that the transfer of pilots from one base to another was commonplace at the airline.
The hearing continues today.