Friday 23 March 2018

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

Michael O’Leary will face shareholders at today’s AGM. Photo: PA
Michael O’Leary will face shareholders at today’s AGM. Photo: PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair pilots at almost 20 bases across Europe have demanded the airline provide permanent contracts drawn under local laws and pay that's benchmarked with that at rival carriers.

They want a response from the airline by tomorrow morning.

The demands come amid a widening schism that threatens to become a pivotal point in Ryanair's future.

Pilots at bases in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Italy wrote yesterday to Ryanair chief operations officer Michael Hickey informing him that they have rejected a request that pilots work 10 of their days off over the next year to plug a pilot shortfall that's resulted in more than 2,000 Ryanair flights being cancelled over the next six weeks.

The Irish Independent understands that pilot captains in Berlin have also been offered an extra €10,000 to work their holidays as the airline continues to grapple with its flights mayhem.

The unconditional payment offered to the captains is in addition to the €12,000 that Ryanair has already pledged to pay senior pilots if they agree to work 10 of their days off over the next year, it's believed.

It's not known if first officers based in Berlin have been offered any additional payments. Ryanair told its first officers this week that they would receive a €6,000 bonus for working 10 of their days off over the next year, and meeting other conditions.

Ryanair pilots at the airline's biggest base - London Stansted - also met yesterday to discuss the on-going flights chaos. Chief executive Michael O'Leary faces shareholders this morning at Ryanair's annual general meeting.

In a letter to Mr Hickey from pilots at 17 bases and seen by the Irish Independent, the pilots said they want to create a "positive future" for the airline and workers.

"The pilot market is changing and Ryanair will need to change the ways in which the pilots and management work together to ensure a stable and common future for everyone," it said.

The pilots want common working conditions throughout the Ryanair network, allowing for differences in local laws as well as pay scales.

"The contract will be based on benchmarks with comparable competitors for each individual region," they told Mr Hickey. "This should help stop the large number of colleagues who are leaving for 'greener pastures'."

If agreement on the proposals is accepted by Ryanair, pilots have said they will work with the airline to make sure flight cancellations in coming weeks will be minimised.

Mr O'Leary, who has already faced a grilling from media this week, will again face questions from the press this morning at the airline's headquarters near Dublin Airport as he tries to reassure passengers that the "cock-up" of flight cancellations will be fixed within six weeks.

The Ryanair board - headed by chairman David Bonderman - will also be at the meeting, with the flights chaos certain to be the number one topic.

Other board members include former Fianna Fáil finance minister and EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy and PayPal's Louise Phelan.

By the close of business yesterday, Ryanair said it expected to have re-accommodated more than 175,000 customers on other Ryanair flights.

Irish Independent

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