Friday 25 May 2018

'We have goodies to discuss with pilots, but if pilots misbehave, that's the end of discussion' - Ryanair's Michael O'Leary

  • Ryanair to recruit and train '600 pilots over the next 10 months' - Michael O'Leary
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary. Photo: Frank McGrath
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary. Photo: Frank McGrath

Louise Kelly & John Mulligan

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has said that the budget airline expects to recruit and train almost 600 pilots between now and the end of May or June next year.

Speaking to media following the the Ryanair annual general meeting (AGM) at the Ryanair HQ in Dublin on Thursday morning, Mr O'Leary said their plan for pilot recruitment has already been mapped out.

However, he admitted that there was "an area of concern" in Dublin. "If Norwegian Air are holding open days, there's nothing we can do, despite the fact that we have very good terms and conditions."

He added: "If you have captains on the 737s who are in their early 30s and single, [and asked] to fly long haul with Norwegian out of Dublin for six or 12 months, there is a risk that we may lose some pilots to Norwegian."

The Ryanair AGM
The Ryanair AGM

"But that's already factored into our pilot recruitment numbers," he said.

Mr O'Leary also said that if there was a "blu flu" amongst the pilots, "the ERC wouldn't get a meeting for 16 months".

"You can kiss goodbye to any increase pay or base adjustments," he said.

Asked whether this was a threat to pilots, Michael O'Leary responded: "Absolutely not. Perish the thought. We would never threaten our pilots".

"We have some goodies to discuss with pilots, but if pilots misbehave, that would be the end of the discussion of the goodies. I don't think that could be construed as a threat.

"If you want to discuss additional pay and bases, come talk to us. But if you want to come talk to us, I wouldn't start off that discussion, I wouldn't start off by having a 'blu flu' or other forms of imaginary industrial action."

Earlier today, learned that pilots at 33 Ryanair bases across Europe have now demanded improved working and employment conditions from the airline's management.

Up to yesterday evening, pilots at 17 bases had made demands. Ryanair has 87 bases.

The latest development heaps pressure on chief executive Michael O'Leary as he deals with a flights fiasco that has caused chaos for hundreds of thousands of passengers.

Read more 'Give us new contracts,' pilots tell Ryanair bosses as tensions mount

It is expected that pilots at Dublin and Stansted - Ryanair's two biggest bases - will issue demands to management later today.

Ryanair pilots are demanding improved employment conditions and pay. However Michael O'Leary has told the Ryanair AGM that pilots "do not want unionisation".

Meanwhile, Captain Evan Cullen, President of IALPA,  told RTE radio that Ryanair pilots haven't sanctioned the union to pursue industrial action.

He told Today with Sean O'Rourke that Michael O'Leary's claim that discontent among pilots is fuelled by unions, is 'absolutely incorrect.'

Captain Cullen also said that there is no need for industrial action in a company where the management are cancelling the flights, not the pilots.

"I'm aware of that threat of work to rule, and again, we have nothing to do with that threat of work to rule," he said. 

"At the moment flights are being cancelled because of management incompetence, not because of pilot action. Every airline around the world knows that the pilot market is tightening and has been tightening for a number of years."

At the AGM, shareholders approved all resolutions by substantial majorities; votes in favour of the Financial Report (99.2pc) and votes in favour of the Remuneration Report (88.7pc).

Ryanair Chairman, David Bonderman, paid tribute to James Osborne, who tragically passed away in August having served as a Director of Ryanair for over 20 years, and expressed his condolences to Mr Osborne’s family and friends.

Micheal O’Leary apologised to shareholders, and again to customers, for the cancellation of 2,100 of its over 103,000 flights, due to a failure within its pilot rostering function.

The airline said it expects to have re-accommodated (or authorised refund requests to) over 95pc of the 315,000 customers affected by these cancellations by the end of the week.


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