Ryanair pilots frustrated by ‘glacial’ progress on pay claim

Ialpa members begin ballot on industrial action, which could lead to strikes in August

Holidaymakers face potential disruption next month as Irish-based Ryanair pilots ballot for strike in a row over pay.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) – part of trade union Fórsa – directly employed by Ryanair met on Tuesday over the carrier’s lack of response to a pay claim they submitted in February.

The pilots began balloting for industrial action, up to and including strike action, at noon on Tuesday.

The vote is due to end on August 9th, indicating that any stoppages could begin in the middle of next month.


“This reflects the frustration and disappointment with the lack of meaningful engagement with Ryanair,” a spokesman said. He described progress on the pay claim as “glacial”.

If pilots vote for industrial action, the union will have to serve at least seven days’ notice before its members strike.

Ialpa said that it remained committed to talks and would meet Ryanair as scheduled on Tuesday July 30th

This means that any action will take place after the August bank holiday weekend, which falls at the start of the month.

However, it still leaves it open to pilots to strike during what is one of the airline’s busiest months.

Ialpa said that it remained committed to talks and would meet Ryanair as scheduled on Tuesday July 30th, in bid to bring negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion. Ryanair did not comment.

The union has not detailed the increase it is seeking from the airline. Pilots’ pay varies according to rank and other factors.

It is understood the association wants the company to introduce a more transparent salary scale, amongst other changes.

During industrial unrest last year, Ryanair said it paid captains between €140,000 and €200,000 annually, but unions disputed those figures.

Previous strike

The Irish pilots’ move comes as British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) members in the airline continue with their ballot for industrial action over pay.

The British union has also expressed frustration at the pace of talks with Ryanair. Its members are due to finish voting early next month.

Ryanair is considering closing and/or cutting back bases this winter and into next year as it copes with delays in the delivery of the new Boeing 737 Max.

The carrier was expecting to receive 50 of these craft from the US manufacturer at the end of this year and in the opening months of 2020.

However, air travel safety regulators grounded the craft following crashes blamed on faulty software. Boeing expects to solve the problem and get the Max airborne again by autumn.

Ryanair will publish financial results for the three months to June 30th on Monday. The airline has already said it expects air fares to fall this summer.

Ryanair also endured strikes in other European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, last summer

Irish pilots held four one-day strikes at Ryanair in July and August last year in a separate dispute over issues such as seniority, leave and base allocation.

Those walkouts hit services between Ireland and Britain, but not flights to popular sunspots such as Spain and Portugal.

Ryanair also endured strikes in other European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, last summer.

The airline said that it operated 90 per cent of its scheduled services through this industrial unrest.

Ryanair subsequently said that the strikes cost it €120 million last year. This included refunding or re-routing customers and cutting fares to lure back those deterred from flying with the airline by fears that industrial action would disrupt their plans.

British airways

Meanwhile, British Airways (BA) on Tuesday failed to get the UK courts to stop its pilots striking for pay increases, paving the way for stoppages at the airline, which flies between Dublin and London.

"Although legally clear to do so, we have still not set any strike dates to give BA one last chance to commit to negotiating on pilots' pay and rewards with us," said Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa.

BA is part of International Consolidated Airlines' Group along with Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas