Ryanair holds ‘constructive’ talks with German pilots union
Maintaining positive momentum on talks would avert further VC strike action
HSBC airline analyst Andrew Lobbenberg cut his price target on Ryanair shares, currently trading at almost €15.30, to €13.50. Photograph: Arnulf Stoffel
Ryanair began talks on Friday with the union behind the first pilots strike in the carrier’s 32-year history, as it continues to meet labour representatives following its surprise move just before Christmas to recognise unions.
Sources described the talks between Ryanair and officials of Germany’s Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union in Frankfurt as “constructive”and said they will form the basis for real negotiations over the coming months. A spokesman for Ryanair and representatives from VC declined to comment.
The carrier met the Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa) on Wednesday and British Airline Pilots Association on Thursday. However, the VC engagement is seen as the major step forward, after members of that union directly employed by Ryanair held a four-hour walkout on December 22nd. However, the action took place before 8am, when only 16 flights were scheduled.
The carrier, led by chief executive Michael O’Leary, will meet Italian and Portuguese pilot unions later this month. It also intends to recognise groups representing cabin crew.
While Ialpa and Portugal’s Spac union have lifted strike threats since Ryanair announced its volte-face on union recognition, VC still has a mandate for industrial action. However, the German union has previously indicated it does not plan further strikes as long as negotiations are constructive.
“Ryanair used to say that it would recognise unions when hell froze over. Faced with building straight threats, it has capitulated,” said Mr Lobbenberg. “A unionised Ryanair will still be profitable, cash-generative and value-creating in our view, but it will be a markedly different company.”
While Ryanair was dogged by thousands of flight cancellations late last year amid botched staff holiday rostering, the company continued to bolster its dominance of European’s low-cost airline market. It carried 129 million passengers in 2017, up 10 per cent on the year.