Saturday 18 January 2020

'I'm sorry', O'Leary tells workers as 900 Ryanair jobs at risk

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary

Ryanair has confirmed it could lay off 900 pilots and cabin crew from September as a result of Brexit, rising fuel bills and the grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

The airline made the admission after details of an internal video message from chief executive Michael O'Leary to staff were leaked.

The Herald has seen the four-minute video, during which Mr O'Leary offers apologies for what he describes as a string of "bad news" that makes reductions to the company's 19,000-strong workforce "simply unavoidable".

Speaking directly to camera, Mr O'Leary says Ryanair's first quarter earnings, which were published on Monday, showed a 21pc drop in profits from a year ago.

The Ryanair chief blamed lower fares, particularly on UK routes, a €450m hike in fuel costs "and higher staff costs, largely because of the big pilot and cabin crew pay increases we negotiated last year".

"This bad news comes just two weeks after we announced that the Max delivery delays mean that instead of taking 58 new aircraft for summer 2020, we will now at best get only 30 of those aircraft, which means we will need about 600 less pilots and cabin crew for summer 2020," he said.

"On top of this bad news, we already have a surplus of over 500 pilots and some 400 cabin crew because resignations have dried up to effectively zero since January.

"Added to these challenges is the increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit in just 12 weeks' time. We're worried that this could have a very damaging effect, particularly on our UK bases, and on some of our Irish bases, which are heavily dependent on people travelling between Ireland and the UK."


In a statement, Ryanair said the jobs at risk referred to the 500 pilots and 400 cabin crew already deemed surplus to requirements.

In his message, Mr O'Leary said Ryanair managers are liaising with airports and union officials and hope to tell staff by the end of August which bases will be closed or downsized.

"I'm sorry, and I apologise sincerely to all of you for this bad news and any uncertainty it'll cause you," Mr O'Leary said.

Forsa, the union which has represented many Ryanair employees in Ireland since last year, said it expected to be consulted on any measures that could affect jobs.

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