GEOFF PERCIVAL: Ryanair rehires pilots boss to ‘transform’ rostering

Ryanair has reappointed its previous pilots and punctuality chief to lead what it calls “a significant transformation” in the way it rewards and interacts with its pilots, after the recent rostering problems which led it to cancel more than 2,000 flights in the past six weeks.

The airline lost its director of flight operations Peter Bellew, who had responsibility for pilots and service punctuality, two years ago to join Malaysia Airlines as chief operations officer.

However, his return to Dublin was announced yesterday, with Ryanair saying he will take up the post of chief operations officer at the beginning of December.

He replaces Michael Hickey, who is due to leave the company at the end of this month.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary yesterday said that Mr Bellew has an unrivalled knowledge of the airline’s business model and how the company maintains “controlled growth”.

Mr O’Leary said that Mr Bellew’s appointment will help an improvement in pilots’ working environment and career development over the coming years as the airline seeks to develop its aircraft fleet and its passenger numbers to a level of 200 million per year.

Ryanair is set to publish first-half financial results at the end of this month, with analysts already having lowered their expectations in the aftermath of the rostering problem. Lost capacity, weak yields and one-off compensation costs are set to have reversed what had seemed to be a strong second quarter.

Pay rises and bonuses for pilots are expected to cost €70m to €100m over the next year and labour cost inflation will be difficult to offset, says Goodbody’s aviation analyst Mark Simpson.

However, he said that Ryanair’s low-cost, high-growth model remains intact and that positive cashflow will fund further share buybacks this year, while ancillary revenues and passenger numbers should continue to rise. Ryanair shares were down marginally yesterday.



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