Ryanair will need “considerably” more than 3,000 job cuts if unions don’t agree to pay cuts for pilots and cabin crew, chief executive Michael O’Leary has warned.
And he said there had been a spike in bookings on the airline’s website over the weekend as Ryanair prepares to start operating 40pc of its normal flight schedule from July.
The airline boss today predicted a “dramatic” increase in passenger numbers within a short time. He was speaking as Ryanair released full-year financial results for the 12 months to the end of March. It made a profit of just over €1bn in the year.
Ryanair recently said that it will need to axe up to 3,000 staff after the coronavirus battered global air traffic and saw fleets grounded all over the world. It has already cut 250 jobs at offices in Dublin, Stansted, Madrid and Wroclaw.
“There’s a dialogue going on with the unions,” said Mr O’Leary. “What we’ve said is that we will need up to 20pc pay cuts. It’s 20pc for higher paid people like the captains. It is down at around 10pc for the lesser paid cabin crew. It’s variable. But if we don’t get those pay cuts, we will be back for considerably more than 3,000 job losses at the end of June.
“We’re not messing,” he added. “Everybody knows there’s an existential crisis going on in the industry.”
Mr O’Leary said Ryanair intends to try to restore the pay cuts within a three or four-year period as the industry recovers.
But he said the airline group needs the lower pay imposed for the remainder of the current financial year, which ends next March.
“If we’re doing well in the summer of 2021 and into 2022, the first people who will be sharing in this recovery will be our people,” he insisted. “The pay cuts will be restored over a three or four-year period.”
Mr O’Leary said he also hopes that the job losses can be restored, but that people would not be individually guaranteed that they would be rehired.
“We’re not going to give anybody the right that you could be the first one back, but clearly we will favour re-hiring those pilots and those cabin crew who lost their jobs through no fault of their own because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
The airline chief also predicted a sharp rebound in passenger demand.
“Once people begin to fly, even if it’s wearing facemasks, confidence will be restored relatively quickly,” he said. “And then I think you’ll see a very dramatic restoration of passenger volumes, but on the back of discounted pricing and very aggressive pricing both from the airlines and also from the hotel and tourism providers.”
Mr O’Leary insisted that facemasks would be “effective at eliminating about 98.5pc of the risk of the spread of Covid-19”.
He said Ryanair had seen a “significant spike” in bookings since last week.
“I wouldn’t want to get too excited, but this weekend for example, bookings were up 60pc over the previous weekend, but that was off a very small base,” he pointed out.
“But we are seeing a significant number of hits and searches over the weekend, particularly from families looking at going on the two weeks’ summer holidays, from northern Europe to places in Italy, Spain, Portugal et cetera.”
Mr O’Leary claimed that making people self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in a country is “bonkers” and “unimplementable”.