Fears grow for Irish jobs as Ryanair prepares to cut up to 900 posts

Michael O’Leary tells staff 500 pilots and 400 cabin crew surplus to requirements

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has told staff in a video message that as many as 1,500 jobs are at risk at the airline due to a slump in earnings, Brexit concerns and delays to expansion plans. Video: Ryanair

 

Fears are growing that some of Ryanair’s Irish-based pilots and cabin crew could lose their jobs as the airline prepares to cut up to 900 posts in coming months.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told staff in a video that the airline had 500 more pilots and 400 more cabin crew than it needed, while it would need 600 fewer people in those roles next summer.

A Ryanair spokesman confirmed the video’s authenticity on Wednesday, while the airline later confirmed that about 900 “current staff could be impacted”.

Mr O’Leary blamed falling air fares, rising staff and fuel costs, Brexit and stalled aircraft deliveries for the move.

He said Ryanair would have details on job losses and the bases that face closure or cutbacks by late August.

Sources say that some of the estimated 350 pilots and 700 crew that Ryanair employs in the Republic could be hit.

They say that jobs would be cut if Ryanair reduced operations at airports including Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock.

They also argue that if the company simply freezes expansion at Irish bases, jobs could still go, as Ryanair is likely to have been hiring staff in anticipation of growth, forcing it to cut back as a result.

No-deal Brexit

Mr O’Leary also highlighted the risk of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October to its Irish operations.

“We’re worried that this could have a damaging affect, particularly on our UK bases and some of our Irish bases which are heavily dependent on people travelling between Ireland and the UK,” he said.

Trade union Fórsa, which represents about 200 Ryanair cabin crew in the Republic, and whose affiliate, the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, has about 100 members in the airline, said it had no information on the the routes or bases that could be hit.

“Fórsa is watching the situation closely, and has told the airline’s management that it expects to be consulted on any measures that could impact on the jobs, incomes or working conditions of union members,” a statement said.

Mr O’Leary said the company would begin talks with airports and unions in coming weeks.

Ryanair employs about 5,400 pilots and 9,100 crew across its European network. Some jobs will be lost and bases closed or shrunk in September with other cuts coming immediately after Christmas.

Ryanair posted the video earlier this week as it reported that profits for the three months to the end of June fell 21 per cent to €243 million.

“We over the next couple of weeks will be doing our very best to minimise job losses, but some are unavoidable at this time,” Mr O’Leary said.

Boeing 737 Max

One of the big factors is a delay in the delivery of Boeing’s new 737 Max aircraft, which is hitting Ryanair’s expansion plans.

Regulators grounded the craft in March on safety fears prompted by two crashes blamed on software failures. Boeing expects to have it airworthy again in the autumn.

Mr O’Leary said Ryanair expected to get “at best” 30 of the 58 Max craft that it was originally due to receive from Boeing by next summer.

This has hit its expansion plans, while resignations from the airline have fallen to “virtually zero” since January, according to its chief executive, leaving it with a surplus of staff.

Rival airlines such as Norwegian are cutting back, while others such as Wow have closed, limiting opportunities for pilots and cabin crew.

Mr O’Leary stressed in his video that Ryanair would survive the current crisis.