6 Oct 2017

Ryanair Saga – O’Leary Writes to Pilots, Begging Them to Stay and Offering Bonus

Ryanair Plane in Flight

In a last-ditch attempt to stop an exodus of dissatisfied pilots, Ryanair’s boss, Michael O’Leary, sent a letter out to pilots begging them to stay and offering them loyalty bonuses as a bribe. Pilots have responded by saying that Ryanair still don’t seem to understand the source of their dissatisfaction.

This comes against a backdrop of problems for Ryanair, who recently cancelled tens of thousands of flights causing chaos for travellers, who they then misled about their legal rights. It wasn’t until the UK’s aviation regulator, the CAA, threatened legal action, that the airline finally bowed to pressure to stop breaking the law.

Ryanair’s appeal to pilots comes amidst rumours that pilots are leaving the airline to join competitors such as Norwegian, having battled unsatisfactory working and contractual conditions for some time.

In a three-page letter headed “A note to all Ryanair pilots”, Michael O’Leary apologises for “the rostering management failure we have suffered over recent weeks”.

He promises “a 12-month loyalty/productivity bonus of up to €12,000” for captains, with half as much for first officers, “subject only to reasonable and achievable performance or targets being met”.

“This we hope will dissuade people leaving to join less financially secure airlines and damaging their careers,” he writes.

“We are a very secure employer — in a very insecure industry.”

Mr O’Leary clearly names the rival airlines he thinks are poaching Ryanair’s staff, “If you have any evidence of competitor 737 operators (such as Norwegian and Jet2) at your base paying more that [sic] Ryanair then provide it to us and we will meet it and beat it.

“If you have, or are considering, joining one of these less financially secure or Brexit-challenged airlines, I urge you to stay with Ryanair for a brighter future for you and you family,” he writes.

One pilot said of the letter: “This reeks of desperation.” Brian Struttoe, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), said: “Our feedback from Ryanair pilots who have seen Michael O’Leary’s letter suggests that he still doesn’t get it. Pilots from bases all over the U.K have told us that they don’t want half-hearted excuses to shut them up.

“They tell us that they want genuine respect.”

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