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Thursday 22 March 2018

Pilot who quit over base move 'better off' with Ryanair, says O'Leary

Morgan Fischer at the Employment Appeals Tribunal
Morgan Fischer at the Employment Appeals Tribunal
Michael O'Leary
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary claims a former pilot, who quit amid claims he was sent to "Siberia" on reduced pay, would have been "far better off" staying with the airline.

Dressed in his trademark blue jeans, jacket and checked shirt, Mr O'Leary appeared as a witness in Morgan Fischer's unfair dismissals claim against the airline at the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin yesterday.

Speaking after the tribunal retired to consider the case, Mr O'Leary said it was "a pity" Capt Fischer didn't apply for a transfer to any of the airline's 57 European hubs instead of resigning after he was posted to its base in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Capt Fischer (45), who now works for American Airlines in Miami, claims he was constructively dismissed by the airline when he was transferred to Kaunas at a loss of €16,000 in salary, after Ryanair closed down its hub in Marseille in the south of France, in October 2010, where he was based.

"Everybody was asked to fill in their base preferences and those who did fill in their base preferences got the moves they wanted wherever we could facilitate them.

This individual, together with one other, decided to absent themselves from that process and then didn't like the outcome," Mr O'Leary told the Irish Independent last night.


"It's a pity but that's their choice," he said, adding: "I think he would have been far better off to work with us through the process and he'd still be happily flying for Ryanair."

Earlier the tribunal heard Mr O'Leary had personally urged Capt Fisher to withdraw his resignation and report for work in Lithuania on Valentine's Day.

He had met with Capt Fischer previously to resolve a prior grievance and exchanged correspondence with the pilot after he tendered his resignation for what he claimed was the airline's "unreasonableness" in forcing him to relocate to Lithuania, 2,000km away.

He told the tribunal he wanted to resolve the dispute and tried to persuade him to accept the transfer to Kaunas but could apply for a transfer later.

He wrote to Capt Fischer in December when he was back in America, "where I strongly recommend you withdraw your resignation and transfer to Kaunas and apply for a transfer (from there) and make yourself available to be rostered for Monday, February 14".

Although he said he couldn't guarantee Capt Fischer would be transferred to another base from Lithuania, he said most pilots and crew usually wind up getting transferred to bases of their choice.

Capt Fischer, meanwhile, said he stood over his claim it was unreasonable for the airline not to give pilots a choice of base ahead of time and not to pay moving expenses "even if you're being moved an enormous distance" as well as "unilaterally be able to reduce your pay".

"Those are the key issues from my perspective. Ryanair and I have a difference of opinion," he told the Irish Independent following the hearing.

Irish Independent

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