Monday 23 September 2019

Ryanair email 'begs' former pilots to return

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Hugh Morris

Ryanair is writing to former pilots "begging" them to return to the embattled airline.

The carrier was accused of mismanagement when it was forced to cancel around 700,000 flight bookings because of "messing up" its pilots' holiday rostering. Critics said the airline was suffering a pilot shortage after a number of captains and first officers had deserted to rival carrier Norwegian.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary initially denied this was the case before admitting the airline needed to hire more flight crew. Last week the airline said it had enlisted 45 in one day, taking its total number of pilots hired in 2017 to more than 860.

However, the UK's 'Telegraph Travel' said the carrier's flight operation manager Elaine Griffin has been appealing to former staff to return to the airline for more money and better working conditions.

"I hope you are keeping well since you left Ryanair," the email read. "My name is Elaine Griffin and I am a new flight ops bases manager in Ryanair. We are currently a team of four which is doubling to eight as part of Ryanair's drive to significantly transform the way we reward and interact with our pilots, improve their working environment and career development."

A source at the airline said it was "begging" former staff to come back.

Ryanair was threatened with a mass walkout by pilots over conditions and the way in which the scores of cancellations was handled.

Mr O'Leary was compelled to apologise to his pilots after initially accusing them of being "full of their own self-importance".

Last month, Norwegian said 140 Ryanair pilots had joined it so far in 2017. Now, it looks like Ryanair is attempting to woo them back.

"You may or may not be aware of the significant changes that are taking place at Ryanair," the email continued. "We have increased captain and FO [first officer] pay rates by approximately 20pc."

In response, Ryanair said they sent the letter to a small number of former Ryanair pilots.

They said they are not "short of pilots", they have over 4,200 or 10.5 per aircraft. They added that they have recruited over 860 so far this year.

Irish Independent

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