Irish no-frills airline Ryanair warned of more than 300 potential job cuts as it slashed its Dublin-based fleet following a recent pilots' strike and cancelled some 300 flights across Europe as its cabin crew begin a two-day strike.
Europe’s largest low-cost carrier said in a statement that it has issued 90 days notice to more than 100 pilots and over 200 cabin crew under plans to slash its Dublin fleet from 30 to around 24 aircraft for this winter.
The airline said there had been “a downturn in forward bookings and airfares in Ireland partly as a result of recent rolling strikes by Irish pilots” which “has had a negative effect on high fare bookings and forward air fares as consumer confidence in the reliability of our Irish flight schedules has been disturbed,” it said.
The airline said that the overhaul was also partly driven by the “rapid growth” of Ryanair Sun, which is its profitable Polish charter airline.
Ryanair Sun will now offer over 10 aircraft to Polish tour operators. That is double the five planes it offered for the summer 2018 season.
The group will begin redundancy consultations with affected staff, and will offer transfers to Poland to minimise redundancies.
“We regret these base aircraft reductions at Dublin for winter 2018, but the board has decided to allocate more aircraft to those markets where we are enjoying strong growth (such as Poland),” said chief operating officer Peter Bellew.
“This will result in some aircraft reductions and job cuts in country markets where business has weakened, or forward bookings are being damaged by rolling strikes by Irish pilots.”
– Hundreds of flights cancelled –
Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, averted widespread strikes before Christmas by deciding to recognise trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history. But it has since struggled to reach agreement on terms with several of them.
On Tuesday, dozens of Ryanair’s Ireland-based pilots staged their third 24-hour strike in an ongoing dispute over working arrangements including annual leave and promotions, leading to the cancellation of 16 flights affecting some 2,500 customers.
Ryanair’s announcement of possible job cuts comes as cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Italy are striking on Wednesday and Thursday over pay and work conditions, leading to the cancellation of 600 flights over two days and affecting 100,000 passengers.
Ryanair apologised on Twitter to its 50,000 customers whose flights were cancelled on Wednesday due to the strike by “some” its cabin crews. It said they had all been put on alternative flights or applied for full refunds.
At Madrid airport striking cabin crew handed out fliers to passengers explaining the reasons for their job action.
Unions want the airline to give contractors the same work conditions as its own employees. They are also seeking that Ryanair staff be employed according to the national legislation of the country they work in, rather than that of Ireland as is currently the case.
– ‘Afraid of Ryanair’ –
Ryanair argues that since its planes fly under the Irish flag and most of its employees work onboard planes, its staff are covered by Irish law.
The company defends the overall package offered to staff, saying they could earn up to 40,000 euros per year, “more than double the ‘living’ wage”.
At Brussels airport 80-90 percent of Ryanair cabin crew took part in the strike, while in nearby Charleroi airport only 60 percent participated, said Lambot Yves of the CNE/LBC union.
He said Ryanair “pressured” staff to work by threatening people who were on holidays to come in or else face reduced hours.
“Some people are afraid of Ryanair, that is why they don’t strike,” he told AFP.
Ryanair on Monday revealed that first-quarter profit dropped more than a fifth on higher fuel costs and pilots’ salaries.
Profit after tax slid 22 percent to 309.2 million euros ($362 million) in the three months to the end of June compared with a year earlier. DM