Michael O’Leary’s comments a disgrace, say Ryanair pilots

Pilots rule out short-term action but consider long-term options

The relationship between Ryanair management and airline staff has soured further after a letter written by pilots and circulated on Friday afternoon labelled Michael O'Leary a "disgrace" and said management should be "ashamed of itself".

The letter, seen by The Irish Times, castigates the airline for not responding to contact made by the Employment Representative Councils (ERCs)on Wednesday and sets a new deadline of next Monday for the company to respond.

It rules out any pilot action in the short term to disrupt Ryanair schedules but says they will be seeking legal advice on future actions.

“As a pilot group we regret that you are not willing to solve the problems Ryanair is facing now,” the letter says. “We offered our help, however you prefer to cancel flights and leave the passengers out in the cold. We do not understand why Ryanair management sees us as the enemy, when we are actually colleagues.


“Management should be ashamed of themselves. Especially you Mr O’Leary, there are over 14,000 employees and contractors working for Ryanair who give their full 100 per cent for the company every day. What you say at press-conferences is a disgrace to all employees and contractors.”

Mr O’Leary had said on Thursday they got very well paid for doing what is “a very easy job”.

Permanent contracts

The letter reiterates calls for permanent local contracts following national laws to be negotiated by January 1st, 2018, with agreed interim arrangements if negotiations are delayed. The letter also demands benchmarking of terms and conditions with regional competitor airlines to reduce the exit of pilots and repeats a demand for professional assistance in the negotiations.

“We want the best for Ryanair but most important for the passengers and therefore we will show flexibility to minimise cancellations and support as much as possible to achieve stability again,” it says.

The letter is unsigned on the basis that the authors “like our jobs and even more like to keep them. We have no confidence in management that they will not target us individually. What we ask for is fair and something we deserve.”

When asked for a response, a Ryanair spokesman would only say: “Our crews have confirmed no such letter was sent.”

The letter was, however, circulating as Mr O’Leary was apologising to staff for the reputational damage caused by the flight cancellations. In an internal broadcast to staff , he also pledged to meet ERCs in the weeks ahead to discuss grievances.

Ryanair announced last week it would be cancelling up to 50 flights per day over the following six weeks in a move that would affect about 350,000 passengers. The airline said on Friday that it expects to have processed more than 300,000 alternative routings or refunds for customers by Sunday.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast