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Ryanair pilots to set pay demands as biggest base rejects deal

The stand-off between pilots and executives has simmered since the airline was forced to cancel flights affecting about 700,000 customers

Gulf News

An adhoc pilot group at Ryanair Holdings is set to detail its pay demands to other aviators as the airline’s management contains fallout from the cancellation of more than 20,000 flights.

The European Employee Representative Council (EERC), which is seeking to organise a company-wide negotiating body, plans to outline the proposal on Sunday, two days after Ryanair’s biggest pilot base rejected a company peace offering, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg. Ryanair’s London Stansted base voted 60 per cent to 40 per cent on Friday against raises of as much as 22,000 euros ($26,000, Dh95,154), the company said.

The stand-off between pilots and executives has simmered since the airline was forced to cancel flights affecting about 700,000 customers due to a mess-up of rosters that left it lacking enough crew to maintain its schedule. The EERC, created after the cancellations last month, is seeking to establish a collective bargaining group across the carrier’s 86 bases.

“Please ask yourself one question: if our negotiating team could deliver the conditions and pay proposal, would you accept it?” EERC organising member Imelda Comer wrote in the letter to pilots. “We promise that it will be very hard to see how any pilot could refuse it. Why not stand together and demand what we are entitled to?”

Ryanair will hire new pilots at the higher rates rejected at Stansted, a spokesperson for the company said Friday, adding that Ryanair “will continue to engage with the London Stansted ERC to understand how it can address their remaining concerns.”

The pay offer, which has been accepted at more than 10 bases, lifts salaries ahead of rivals Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and Jet2 by about 20 per cent.

The Stansted pilots rejection follows a series of blows to Ryanair, including a call to strike by an Italian union and pledges of financial and logistical support from three major US labour groups. Ryanair has said it will not recognise any union body, citing two previous failed efforts to organise its pilots in 2004 and 2012.

The company is hiring more staff to manage its rosters and has named Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Officer Peter Bellew to replace its former chief operations officer who left the company this month. Bellew, a former Ryanair executive, will rejoin on December 1.

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