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Explainer: Everything we know so far as Michael O'Leary issues unprecedented personal apology to Ryanair pilots

  • Letter urges pilot loyalty to airline for "brighter future"
  • Raft of improvements to pay and conditions promised
  • Staff urged to engage with company's head of people


Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Picture: Frank McGrath

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Picture: Frank McGrath

Michael O'Leary

Michael O'Leary



Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Picture: Frank McGrath

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has written to the airline's pilots in an impassioned plea to get them to remain at the airline.

What happened?

In an unprecedented CEO, the airline boss, penned a lengthy letter to the company's pilots and he has promised a raft of changes including improved pay and conditions.

The letter comes following weeks of controversy involving the low-fares airline.

A flurry of flight cancellations in recent weeks due to rostering issues at the airline has sparked a chain of events at the airline which has seen a grassroots movement among Ryanair pilots to unionise in order to seek better employment conditions and pay.


Ryanair letter (p1)

Ryanair letter (p1)

Ryanair letter (p1)

What did the letter promise pilots?

The letter addresses a number of areas of concern for pilots including pay, conditions, rosters and comments made by Mr O'Leary at the company's AGM. Mr O'Leary informed pilots that the airline's chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, has now taken direct control of pilot recruitment and rostering functions.

  • He pledged pay increases and benchmarking against competitors in future promising Ryanair will exceed salaries of rival airlines.
  • Changes to roster systems to ensure that "days off will really mean day off"
  • Changes to the bonus system for pilots
  • Investment in apps to allow easier leave and swap requests for pilots

What else did the letter say?

The extensive letter also covered comments made by Mr O'Leary at the company's recent AGM about pilots, which he claims were "misreported".

The outspoken boss said after the AGM that pilots had a steady job except in adverse weather conditions or during air traffic control strikes. He said that Ryanair pilots only worked an average of 18 hours a week and that most of the time they could get in an aircraft and hit autopilot and often have little else to do.

"I emphasised (as I always do), that Ryanair's pilots are the best in the business, who work hard, are well trained and extremely professional," he said in today's letter.

"I am proud of your skill and experience, operating across multiple airports, especially during bad weather," the airline chief added.

He claimed that critical comments he made were "specifically directed" at pilots of competitor airlines and their local unions.

Mr O'Leary also urged bases who wish to secure improvements to pay and conditions to engage in their in-house process and request a meeting with Mr Wilson.

The embattled CEO also cautioned pilots against "Breixt-challenged airlines" and competitors where he said prospects were not as secure as what Ryanair could offer.

"If you have, or are considering joining one of these less financially secure or Brexit-challenged airlines, I urge you to stay with Ryanair for a brighter future for you and you family," he said.

Have Ryanair pilots responded?

No response has yet been made public from Ryanair's pilots or unions who now represent a portion of them.

Online Editors