Ryanair signs recognition deal with British pilot union

Association to be sole representative body for Ryanair-employed pilots in UK, airline says

Staff at Ryanair headquarters in Dublin. The British Airline Pilots’ Association the union recognition deal covered 600 directly-employed pilots in Ryanair’s UK operations. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Staff at Ryanair headquarters in Dublin. The British Airline Pilots’ Association the union recognition deal covered 600 directly-employed pilots in Ryanair’s UK operations. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

 

Ryanair has signed a union recognition deal with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), the first of its kind since the airline reversed its policy on organised labour in December.

Confirming the deal on Tuesday, the carrier said Balpa would now be the sole representative body for Ryanair-employed pilots in the UK, one of its biggest markets.

Britain is home to one of Ryanair’s biggest bases, Stansted Airport. About one in four of the carrier’s 4,000-plus pilots are based in the UK along with 100 of its 400 aircraft.

“This agreement follows extensive negotiations with Balpa since Ryanair’s December announcement that it was willing to recognise unions for collective bargaining purposes,” the airline’s statement added.

Balpa confirmed that the deal covered 600 directly-employed pilots in Ryanair’s UK operations. “Given Ryanair’s previous hostility towards unions, today’s agreement is an historic one,” said general secretary Brian Strutton.

Negotiations

The union plans to elect five Ryanair company council members who will lead future negotiations with the airline on issues such as pay, rosters and holidays.

Ryanair agreed to recognise unions in December following strike threats from members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) and equivalent groups in Germany, Italy and Portugal.

Balpa was not one of the unions whose Ryanair-employed members threatened industrial action, but began talks with the airline in mid-December, along with other unions. Similar talks are under way with Ialpa – part of trade union Fórsa.

Eddie Wilson, Ryanair’s chief people officer, welcomed the news. “This agreement validates the decision of Ryanair’s board in December to recognise unions,” he said.

Mr Wilson added that the fact that the airline had “delivered pay rises of up to 20 per cent” and union recognition in its biggest market showed how serious the airline was about working constructively with labour groups.

Ialpa members met on Tuesday to discuss a 20 per cent pay rise offer from Ryanair that dates back to last year. The union did not comment but it is understood that it is unlikely to hold a ballot on the offer.