Wednesday 20 November 2019

'Unprecedented' - Ryanair pilots receive new rosters... but only for three weeks

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, centre, speaks during the airline's AGM
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, centre, speaks during the airline's AGM
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair has issued new rosters to pilots this morning.

But in what has been described as an unprecedented move, understands that pilots from at least some bases have only been informed of their duties for the next three weeks, rather than four.

It’s still unclear why this is the case, but underlines the continuing difficulties the carrier is having in developing schedules to minimise disruption.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said yesterday that pilots have so far pledged to work a total of 2,500 days off in return for payments of up to €12,000 for captains, as it tries to plug the hole in its rosters.

Mr O’Leary warned that while he would not cancel pilot leave, the airline had the right under pilot contracts to force them to hand back a week of holidays.

The latest development this morning comes as a deadline given to Ryanair management by a swathe of its pilot bases expired a short while ago.

Pilot employee representative councils had given an ultimatum that they wanted a response by this morning regarding demands for new working conditions and terms of employment.

Ryanair management is struggling to bring flights chaos to an end within the next six weeks, with hundreds of thousands of passengers having so far been affected.

Mr O’Leary claimed yesterday that Ryanair will have another 125 new pilots coming on stream in the next couple of weeks, and that it will hire hundreds more over the next six months.

The airline chief said yesterday that any pilots who engage in industrial action such as ‘blue flu’ can “kiss goodbye” to pay increases. Blue flu was the name given to past industrial action by Gardai, where prohibited from striking, they called in sick.

Asked if that was a threat to pilots, Mr O’Leary said “absolutely not”.

“We’d never threaten our pilots,” he said. “We have some goodies to discuss with pilots, but if pilots misbehave, that will be the end of discussion on goodies. I don’t think that would be construed as a threat.”

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