Thursday 17 October 2019

Tánaiste praises Ryanair for 'democratising and transforming' air travel

An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD. Photo: Tom Burke
An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD. Photo: Tom Burke

Caroline Crawford

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has welcomed the ‘movement’ and negotiations to resolve the ongoing Ryanair crisis.

The Tánaiste praised the company for “democratising and transforming” airline travel but refused to be drawn on whether pilots were being treated unfairly by the company’s refusal to negotiate with third party pilot unions.

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary has written to pilots promising a raft of improvements to pay and conditions and a commitment to benchmark pay against competitor airlines.

However, he made it clear that this would only be negotiated through the company’s in-house Employee Representative Councils, as the company does not deal with pilots unions.

Asked to comment on the airline's refusal to deal with unions, the Tánaiste replied: “I’m not going to say anything that would inflame the situation in any way. I think what is important is that there is movement and there are negotiations and the situation is resolved in the interest of a very important company.”

She went on to praise Ryanair as “a company really that has democratised and transformed airline travel for consumers, not just in Ireland but around the world.”

“We really do need to see this dispute resolved as quickly as possible. So whatever actions would lead to the resolution, certainly that’s what I want to see,” she added.

Describing the crisis as a “complex situation” Ms Fitzgerald said her main concern was the passengers.

“It’s a complex situation, we want to see it resolved. I’m thinking of the clients, the people who are travelling. We want to make sure that people can rely when they make their booking and I’d like to see that situation being resolved as quickly as possible and I think we are seeing moves now,” she added.

The Tánaiste was speaking in Galway at the launch of 60 new jobs by leading Microsoft digital enterprise consultancy Storm Technologies.

The new positions, supported by Enterprise Ireland, include opportunities for senior managers, digital business consultants, change management experts and software professionals. They will come on stream between now and the first quarter of 2019.

She went on to speak about the upcoming budget saying the Government was committed to making sure that as many sectors of Irish society benefit from it as possible within the limited resources available.

“We want to make sure that it is worthwhile to go out to work and we want to support the workers out there whose taxes are making sure that we can invest in services,” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald said they were also committed to doing “the very best by” the most vulnerable in society.

“We want to do a budget that continues the growth that is prudent but we want to make sure that people benefit, that people feel the effects of the economic recovery but it’s going to take place over time and this budget will be an important part of the journey ahead. But the economy is improving and budgets will get stronger and stronger in the years ahead and people will feel their benefits more and more,” she added.

The Tánaiste also criticised the EU move over the Apple tax bill as “unnecessary” and “unhelpful”.

“A huge amount of work has been done, its a huge transaction that takes a lot of time but it’s not for want of effort and work. So we think it’s an unnecessary intervention by the Commission at this point and we regret it,” she said.

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