Ryanair pilots up ante with double wage rise demand

Ryanair’s pilot uprising shows little signs of abating, with an ad-hoc group demanding that a wage increase turned down by crews at London’s Stansted Airport be doubled and extended across the airline’s European bases.

Ryanair pilots up ante with double wage rise demand

The unofficial European Employee Representative Council made the proposal to pilots after cockpit crews at Ryanair’s biggest base rejected the existing offer, according to a document sent to pilots on Sunday. The group has asked for feedback from air crew and pledged to organise strikes if a deal can’t be reached.

In a push for broader changes to working conditions, 60% of pilots at Stansted on Friday voted against a raise that would have boosted compensation to about 20% more than rivals Norwegian Air Shuttle and Jet2. The rogue pilot group is demanding an increase in basic pay to £150,000 (€168,000) for captains in the company, compared with £64,000 currently.

The standoff between pilots and Ryanair management has simmered since the airline had to cancel more than 20,000 flights affecting about 700,000 customers due to botched planning that left it lacking enough crew to maintain its schedule. The council, created after the cancellations last month, is seeking to establish a collective bargaining group across the carrier’s 86 bases.

Pilots look to be taking “an unreasonable stand,” according to Goodbody aviation analyst Mark Simpson.

“This is a wishlist that will be firmly rejected by the company and sounds as if they have taken on a lead from the US union representatives that have been advising Ryanair’s pilots,” he said. Ryanair shares fell nearly 2% yesterday.

“While no pilot may wish to take industrial action, sometimes it is the only way to bring an intransigent employer to a satisfactory agreement,” the council said in a letter accompanying the document. “We have to consider this possibility to ensure we have an equal voice at the negotiating table.”

The demands, which would be retroactive to September 1, include having Ryanair cover costs for uniforms, training, healthcare, on-board drinks and snacks, and ground transport and accommodation while working from an alternative base. The plan also calls for permanent contracts for pilots currently working as contractors and would grant shares in the company tied to seniority.

Ryanair shrugged off the setback in Stansted, saying it will hire new pilots at the higher rates rejected at the base. Management’s existing offer for an increase of up to £22,000, including bonuses, has been accepted at more than 10 bases.

-Bloomberg

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