Up to 20 Ryanair pilots based in Dublin Airport face redundancy

Airline may have to cut up to 700 pilots and cabin crew as it reins in planned expansion

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary at the airline’s agm in Dublin on Thursday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary at the airline’s agm in Dublin on Thursday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Up to 20 Ryanair pilots in Dublin Airport face being laid off as the airline reins in planned expansion on the back of stalled aircraft deliveries.

The Irish airline may have to cut between 500 and 700 pilots and cabin crew if delays in the delivery of 30 new Boeing 737 Max aircraft that it has ordered for 2020 stretch into next summer.

Speaking after Ryanair’s annual general meeting (agm) yesterday, chief executive Michael O’Leary said it was seeking between 10 and 20 redundancies from pilots based in Dublin Airport.

The airline employs 400 pilots in Dublin, its biggest Irish base. Mr O’Leary said Ryanair was offering 12 months’ unpaid leave as a way of cutting numbers voluntarily.

“But if we don’t get enough there will be compulsory redundancies over the next two months, timed when the winter schedule starts on the 1st of November,” he stressed.

Ryanair is closing bases in Belfast and the Canary Islands, and is talking to crews in British bases, including its largest, Stansted Airport, about reducing numbers.

While the carrier last month said it could cut up to 900 jobs, Mr O’Leary estimated that it could be between 500 and 700, with the final number tied to the Boeing deliveries.

Ryanair had expected to receive 30 of the new craft, temporarily grounded by regulators following two crashes blamed on a software failure, late this year and early in 2020.

Growth plans

Mr O’Leary expects Boeing to have solved the problem to regulators’ satisfaction by early next year, meaning Ryanair could get the 30 craft by the end of June. However, the delays have slowed the airline’s growth plans, leaving it with 500 more pilots than it needs.

Mr O’Leary defended his new contract as group chief executive of Ryanair, which halves both his salary and bonus to €500,000 each, but entitles him to 10 million share options after five years if the stock price and profits double.

Shareholders voted for Ryanair’s remuneration report, which allows them comment on executive pay, by only a narrow 50.5 per cent margin.

Jocelyn Brown, senior investment manager with British rail workers’ retirement fund RPMI Railpen, a Ryanair investor, questioned the share option grant at the agm.

Mr O’Leary called the deal a “free bet” for shareholders as he would get nothing except his salary if he failed to double both the share price and profits.

He said the airline had agreed with shareholders to drop future share options for a long-term incentive plan, a scheme used by quoted companies to retain executives. Non-executive directors would also get some benefit from this, Mr O’Leary added.

He confirmed that mediation with the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, part of trade union Fórsa, had restarted under industrial relations veteran Kieran Mulvey. The union left talks last month after Irish-based pilots voted to strike. Ryanair subsequently got a court order halting the industrial action.

Mr O’Leary said that the “vast majority” of staff did not support recent strike threats in Portugal, Spain and the UK and that the stoppages had not disrupted flights.