Norwegian Air flies ahead with pilot recruitment

Next recruitment campaign by Norwegian will be another test of Ryanair pilots’ loyalty

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has offered financial incentives to the airline’s Dublin-based pilots in a bid to prevent them from leaving for rivals. Photograph: Eric Luke

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has offered financial incentives to the airline’s Dublin-based pilots in a bid to prevent them from leaving for rivals. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Norwegian Air International is planning more roadshows in coming weeks to hire pilots for a new Dublin base. The airline announced a fortnight ago that it intends to recruit an initial 40 pilots for its operation at Ireland’s biggest airport, and then said it may add to this as it expands next year.

Norwegian kicked off its campaign two weeks ago with a roadshow that it said was “well-attended”. It is understood that about 50 potential candidates turned up to see what the airline was offering. The airline plans to have more such events between now and November.

About 10 of the posts it is offering in Dublin will be filled internally, meaning that it is actually hiring about 30 pilots initially. So a turnout of 50 at its first roadshow must have left the airline feeling confident that it can fill the positions.

All this began before news of Ryanair’s cancellation debacle became public, and subsequent stories emerged of unrest among the low-cost carrier’s pilots. Norwegian, which has hired 400 pilots so far this year, said it had taken 140 of them from its rival.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the number was fewer than 100.

However, he subsequently announced that the airline was offering its 360 or so pilots at Dublin a €10,000 bonus to deter them from leaving, specifically for Norwegian, which he conceded was recruiting some of his staff.

While Norwegian would not say if any of the 50 who turned up at its first roadshow were working for Ryanair, it would be unusual if none of them were. In the wake of the cancellations crisis at Ryanair, it is likely that quite a few more will turn up at the roadshows that Norwegian intends holding over coming weeks.

Ryanair’s pilots are an attractive proposition for Norwegian, as they fly Boeing 737s, the same craft that the Scandinavian group’s Irish subsidiary uses on its transatlantic flights.

Whatever the number of pilots that Norwegian has managed to poach from Ryanair so far, the current recruitment drive seems sure to add to that. It will be the first test of whether the €10,000 extra offered by the Irish carrier will be enough to keep pilots’ loyalty.

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