Ryanair pilots call for Michael O’Leary to resign

EERC says more flight cancellations inevitable after pilots’ resignations

Ryanair: Michael O’Leary said he believed strikes were likely over Easter. Photograph: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Ryanair: Michael O’Leary said he believed strikes were likely over Easter. Photograph: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

 

A pilot group that helped spearhead a staff revolt at Ryanair last year has called on the company’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, to resign in the latest sign of strains in staff relations at Europe’s largest low-cost airline.

The European Employee Representative Council, or EERC, an unofficial body set up by Ryanair pilots to mobilise for better conditions in 2017, said it believed many pilots were leaving the airline and that Mr O’Leary had failed to resolve the problem.

Several pilot unions have said the EERC represents a significant number of the more than 4,000 pilots at the airline, but Ryanair management has dismissed it as a front for “competitor pilot unions”.

In a letter to Mr O’Leary the EERC said that the number of pilots leaving the airline had not decreased since a shortage of standby pilots last year led the airline to cancel 20,000 flight and trim its growth plans. “By our assessment, it looks like further cancellations are inevitable due to the continuing resignations of pilots,” the letter said.

A senior Ryanair executive earlier this month said the airline had more than enough pilots to operate its schedule.

“Easter week strikes”

The letter to Mr O’Leary said pilots had noticed in recent weeks an increase in the number of company requests to work on days off, which they say also happened in the lead-up to the cancellations. At the same time the letter repeated an offer to help convince pilots to work extra hours and described Mr O’Leary’s predictions of strike action in the coming weeks as alarmist. Mr O’Leary said last week that he believed strike action was likely during Easter week.

The airline averted widespread strikes before Christmas by announcing plans to recognise pilots’ unions for the first time in its 32-year history. But talks with pilot unions to formalise union recognition and improved terms have stalled in recent weeks. Ryanair says talks are ongoing in seven countries, but only the British Airline Pilots’ Association has signed a recognition agreement.

“We suggest you leave now, and we call on the board and investors to engage a new CEO to return this airline to its rightful place,” the EERC letter said.

Ryanair said in a statement that the EERC and its communications had “no legal standing or validity.” It said that 80 per cent of Ryanair pilots had already accepted a 20 per cent pay increase that the EERC has opposed on the grounds that accepting it could prejudice future talks between management and trade unions. – Reuters