Ryanair treated us like robots - former pilot
A former Ryanair pilot told the High Court he felt the company treated pilots "like robots" and was not interested in any issues they had, including safety.
"They forgot about us as human beings, we were treated like robots," Jean Francois Claes said. "It was go to work, we don't want to hear from you, whether it is personal or safety issues."
He was giving evidence on the 13th day of the airline's action for defamation against Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG) founders, Evert Van Zwol, John Goss and Ted Murphy. They deny a September 2013 email sent to pilots was defamatory.
Captain Claes, who now works for Transavia, said he was warned he would face possible dismissal in relation to three matters. The first related to his refusal to extend the normal 11-hour maximum flying time for one day, due to fatigue of himself and crew after landing at Santiago in Spain.
There was a second incident in Charleroi airport, when confusion about a wheelchair passenger led to passengers about to board a flight becoming angry. He decided for his own safety to disembark and another pilot was found to fly the plane.
He was warned he would face disciplinary action even though he believed his decision was correct from a safety viewpoint.
Mr Claes said he was again threatened with disciplinary action and with being sued after he sent a letter through Ryanair's internal communications system raising a number of safety-related questions.
Darrell Hughes, Ryanair's HR manager, who was recalled to deal with some of Capt Claes's evidence, said no disciplinary action was taken and he was given the "benefit of the doubt" over the Santiago incident.
However, the company believed he should have been able to complete his duty for the day as it meant only going eight minutes into his 'captain's discretion' which allows pilots extend their permitted flying time limit.
In relation to the incident in Charleroi, Mr Hughes believed Capt Claes should not have walked off the flight and should have had the skills to defuse the situation.
The case continues.