Ryanair pilots demand Stansted pay that doubles airline's offer

 23 Oct 2017 - 0:28

Ryanair pilots demand Stansted pay that doubles airline's offer

By Benjamin Katz / Bloomberg

An ad hoc pilots group at Ryanair Holdings Plc has demanded double the pay offered by management to its London Stansted crews, who last week voted to reject a peace offering aimed at containing fallout from a flight cancellation debacle.

The unofficial European Employee Representative Council made the proposal to pilots two days after Ryanair’s biggest pilot base rejected the existing offer, according to a document seen by Bloomberg on Sunday. The group has asked pilots for feedback and pledged to take industrial action if a new deal can’t be agreed.

Ryanair’s London Stansted base voted 60 percent to 40 percent on Friday against raises and bonuses of as much as 22,000 pounds ($29,000), which would boost basic compensation to 74,000 pounds, the company said Friday. The group’s demands would see basic pay rise to 150,000 pounds for captains across the company, from 64,000 pounds currently.

The stand-off between pilots and executives has simmered since the airline was forced to cancel more than 20,000 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.

‘Satisfactory Agreement’

“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 EERC 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 Sept. 1, include having the carrier cover training costs, pilot medicals, free drinks and snacks on board flights, uniforms, and ground transport and accommodation while working from an alternative base. All pilots would be offered permanent contracts under the plan, and upon signing the new deal would receive shares in the company tied to each pilot’s seniority.

Ryanair will hire new pilots at the higher rates rejected at Stansted, a spokesman 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.” Management’s existing 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 percent.

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 U.S. labor groups. Ryanair has said it will not recognize any union body, citing two previous failed efforts to organize its pilots in 2004 and 2012.

The company is hiring more staff to manage its rosters and has named Malaysia Airlines Bhd. 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 Dec. 1.