Tuesday 20 February 2018

Pilots to reject €12,000 offer for working on their days off

Many expected to refuse plea to fly as showdown with management looms at Irish and foreign bases

Passengers board a Ryanair flight at Stansted Airport, north-east of London, earlier this month. Photo: Reuters
Passengers board a Ryanair flight at Stansted Airport, north-east of London, earlier this month. Photo: Reuters
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The majority of Ryanair pilots at Dublin are likely to reject an offer of up to €12,000 for working days off over the next year, the Irish Independent understands.

It raises the prospect of a showdown with management as the airline continues efforts to plug a pilot shortfall that has caused flight chaos.

To add to the continued confusion for passengers, the airline admitted yesterday that at least one flight - a service from Paris to Dublin tomorrow - had been incorrectly listed as cancelled.

The Irish Independent has also learned that Ryanair has begun contacting pilots who previously applied for jobs with the airline but did not take up employment with it. It has asked them if they rejected an offer because their preferred base was not available, and if it was, would they now join and when would they be available to start.

On Monday evening, Ryanair offered captains €12,000/£12,000 extra for working 10 of their days off over the next year, and flying for at least 800 hours in total. First officers were offered €6,000/£6,000.

But it is thought the plea will be widely snubbed - although pilots may yet feel pressured into accepting it.

Pilots at Ryanair's Italian bases are already understood to have rejected the offer.

If most of the estimated 350 pilots Ryanair has based in Dublin also spurn the management proposal, an already tense relationship will be severely tested.

Read More: 'We paid €450 for new tickets before flight was reinstated'

On Monday, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary did not rule out cancelling all pilot leave if necessary in order to tackle the flights fiasco that has struck hundreds of thousands of passengers. Pilot contracts state that all leave can be cancelled in exceptional circumstances, it's understood.

Some Ryanair pilots are already understood to have had their leave cancelled.

Ryanair insists that its pilots take one block of a month off every year, and they receive an extra 10 ad-hoc days per annum.

Pilots have been asked to work at least five of their 10 days off in a single block.

Payments

Those who had already been assigned the month of October off were asked by Ryanair chief operations officer Michael Hickey to let the airline know by today what their "preferred availability" is next month.

Read More: New base in Dublin is driving recruitment - and it's still hiring

In order to qualify for extra payments - which won't be received by pilots until November next year - crew must meet a number of conditions between now and the end of October 2018.

The Irish Independent understands that Ryanair pilots in Italy have already written to Mr Hickey to inform him that they will not be accepting the additional payments.

But Ryanair said it declined to comment on "rumour or speculation", and declined to confirm if Mr Hickey had received a letter from the Italian pilots.

However, correspondence seen by the Irish Independent said Mr Hickey was told by the Italian pilot groups that they have rejected the payments and that the issues facing the airline and pilots are "only symptoms of a much bigger problem".

Analysis: O'Leary has avoided unrest so far - but an opportunistic revolt could change all that

"We believe that continuing to patch up the symptoms of this problem are eventually going to lead to a major collapse in the service we provide," they said.

"We are not prepared to follow these strategies any longer."

They have insisted that the airline drafts Italian employment contracts for pilots and cabin crew based in Italy, and sought increased resources.

Ryanair passengers have continued to count the cost of its rolling flight cancellations, as the airline tries to cope with the operational nightmare.

Irish Independent

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