Ryanair accuses pilots of defamation over statement

Statement considered factors that might affect airline’s commercial performance in 2013

The High Court action being taken by Ryanair against the five men who make up the Ryanair Pilot Group's interim council accuses them of defamation arising from a statement issued by the group to member pilots last month, according to sources.

The group, which aims to represent Ryanair pilots in industrial relations and professional matters, issued a statement to its members on September 12th after a trading statement to the markets by Ryanair caused a fall in the airline’s share price.

The statement reviewed developments within the company, considered a number of factors that might affect its commercial performance in 2013, and speculated as to how this might affect pilots.

Last month Ryanair said it expects to sell 500,000 fewer seats over the next few months for less money than it anticipated when it published its first quarter results in July. As a result, it said, it believed that profits for its financial year, which ends on March 31st, are likely to be either slightly below or at the lower end of the €570 million to €600 million range into which it expects them to fall. It also said it plans to ground more aircraft over the winter than it originally intended .

The latter point directly affects pilots and their likely income. Ryanair’s profitability is of particular interest to some pilots whose employment terms can be amended if Ryanair reports losses for two quarters in a row.

(There is no suggestion that the airline is going to report a loss, just lower profits than had originally been suggested to the markets.)

Profit-related review
A recently proposed collective agreement from the company to pilots at its base in Bremen, Germany, stipulated that the agreement could be reviewed if the company in any year reported a profit that was less than a previous year's profit.

A spokesman for Ryanair said it did not comment on pending legal cases. A spokesman for the RPG said it had no comment. The five pilots who are being sued are: Evert Van Zwol, John Goss, Ted Murphy, Carl Kuwitzky and Samuel Giezendanner, none of whom work for Ryanair.

Capt Goss was fired by the airline recently after he appeared in a Channel 4 documentary that discussed aspects of the airline's operations. He and the broadcaster are being sued by Ryanair.

The RPG is scheduled to hold its first press conference in Brussels next week and it is expected that the five pilots who are being sued by the airline will be among those taking part.