Sunday 22 September 2019

Ryanair disruption over pilot roster shambles 'will never recur'

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair has insisted the disruption to flights caused by its pilot roster shambles "will never recur".

The promise has been made in a fresh memo to pilots from the airline's chief people officer, Eddie Wilson.

He said he wanted to thank staff for their "help and support over these difficult few weeks."

He added: "Our rosters were badly disrupted by poor planning of A/L (annual leave) in September, October, November and December, but have now recovered."

Mr Wilson claimed that when the new rostering calendar begins in January, any rostering problems will have been remedied.

"I promise you, this will never recur," he insisted.

"In 2018 you will enjoy more stable and reliable rosters, more support from your base manager, better IT systems and substantial pay increases of up to €22,000 per annum for captains, and up to €11,000 per annum for first officers subject to your base ERC (Employee Representation Committee) negotiating and agreeing the necessary amendment to your existing five-year base agreement."

An interim European ERC (EERC) has been independently established by a group of Ryanair pilots from at least 15 of the airline's bases. Those bases represent the a significant majority of Ryanair's pilots.

The EERC has told management that is has a mandate to deal with management on behalf of a number of bases.

But chief executive Michael O'Leary has insisted he won't deal with the EERC. He has also said he will never deal with unions.

A large number of Ryanair pilots have joined European unions in recent weeks and are now receiving support from those unions as well as major airline pilot unions in the United States as they gear up to present demands to Ryanair management.

Many Ryanair pilots are unhappy with their terms and conditions and insist that wages are not the only reason for their discontent.

They have also been urged by the EERC not to accept any new individual base deals being offered by Ryanair management.

Today's memo from Eddie Wilson reiterates the airline's opposition to dealing with unions or the EERC.

"We will not enter into writing, or meetings, with competitor airline pilots/unions, or whatever they call themselves this week (RPG/REPA/EERC??) whose sole aim is to prevent you from accessing a big pay increase," he said.

Mr Wilson warned: "If there is no agreement at your base to vary the existing base agreements, then we will still offer these improved pay and conditions to all new direct-entry recruits from 1 November, as we intend to make Ryanair pilots the best paid B737 operators in the LoCo (low-cost) sector in Europe."

He added: "The only way to ensure that your base shares in this upside – from November – is to support your ERC’s reaching agreement over the next three weeks. If this doesn’t happen then these pay increases may be delayed until December, or next year, or not delivered at all."

Mr Wilson added that if pilots "continue to be misled by the false promises of unions" then the pilots "will delay or miss out on these big pay increases next month, and you will simply remain on your existing base agreement until they expire between 2020 and 2022."

Ryanair's chief operations officer, Mick Hickey, announced his resignation last week.

"Our COO Mick Hickey has sadly resigned, and we are looking for a replacement of international stature who will lead our operations into the future and transform the way we interact with, and create career progression for, Ryanair's pilot team," said Mr Wilson.

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