herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Showdown looms as pilots plan to reject Ryanair's €12k

Passengers board a Ryanair flight at Stansted Airport. Photo: REUTERS
Passengers board a Ryanair flight at Stansted Airport. Photo: REUTERS

The prospect of a showdown between Ryanair pilots and management has been raised, as the airline's Dublin-based pilots look set to reject a lucrative offer to work their days off.

As the cancellation crisis deepens at the airline, a majority of its pilots in Dublin are likely to turn down the offer of up to €12,000 for working days off over the next year.

To add to the continued confusion for passengers, Ryanair admitted yesterday that at least one flight - a service from Paris to Dublin tomorrow - had been mistakenly cancelled and was in fact going to operate as normal.

The Herald 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.

Snubbed

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 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.

It is thought the plea will be widely snubbed. However, pilots may also feel pressurised 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 management's proposal, an already tense relationship will be severely tested.

On Monday, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary did not rule out cancelling all pilot leave if necessary in order to tackle the flights fiasco, which has struck hundreds of thousands of passengers.

Pilot contracts state that all leave can be cancelled in exceptional circumstances, it is 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 additional 10 ad-hoc days per annum.

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

Pilots 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.

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

Rumour

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

Ryanair said it would not comment on "rumour or speculation", and declined to confirm if Mr Hickey had received a letter from the Italian pilots.

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

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

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