(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thur, 9th Aug 2018) London, Uk – –
Ryanair has been plunged into a fresh crisis after German pilots joined colleagues across Europe in a wave of coordinated strike action timed to cause maximum disruption to summer getaways.
One sixth of Ryanair’s flights, nearly 400 in total, are due to be grounded on Friday, disappointing tens of thousands of customers at the height of the holidays.
German pilots announced a 24-hour walkout on Wednesday. They joined industrial action previously planned by Ryanair pilots in Ireland, Sweden and Belgium. VNV, the Dutch pilot union, is also considering a walkout.
Vereinigung Cockpit, the German pilots’ union, said it hoped the strikes would force Ryanair “to compromise with us and enter serious negotiations” over pay and conditions.
Ryanair pilots claim that their salaries are made up of an unusually high variable component based on how much they fly.
They argue their pay can drop dramatically as a result of issues that are outside of their control, for instance through prolonged bouts of illness. Pilots are also frustrated with being moved across Ryanair’s network of 223 airports in 37 countries at short notice.
Vereinigung Cockpit negotiator Ingolf Schumacher said: “Pilots are not nomads who put up tents wherever Ryanair wants to operate.”
Ryanair chief operating officer Peter Bellew rejected the German pilots’ main demands but left the door open to negotiation.
He said: “We are not going to change the Ryanair business model… but we still can change many things that we do.”
Ryanair said German pilots received a 20pc pay rise at the turn of the year and can take home up to £171,000.
City analysts said the outcome of dispute and its impact on tight staff cost control will be crucial for Ryanair as it battles to maintain profits that are the highest of any budget carrier in Europe. The airline is also battling cabin crew and has been forced to cancel thousands of flights this summer due to French air traffic control strikes.
Liberum analyst Gerald Khoo said: “Ultimately Ryanair have to win this battle.
“They can’t get into a situation allowing any individual union to shift working practices back to the position of legacy carriers. If you give in to one then the others will have a go.
“Ultimately maintaining its focus on low-cost efficient, productive working practices is quite core to how Ryanair makes a profitable airline.”
Robin Byde, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, said Friday’s concerted action will mark an escalation tensions between Ryanair and its staff.
“There is rising militancy across the group. And at the moment that is not going to change,” he said.
“You’ve seen this with Air France… what prolonged periods of strike action do is that they undermine consumer confidence within booking with that airline. It has a knock-on effect over the next three to six months.
“Once that thinking gets ingrained, then you are in trouble.”
Martyn James of consumer group Resolver said: “There’s no doubt that strike action on this scale at the peak of the holiday season can hit an airline hard but Ryanair isn’t likely to give in easily, though it may pay a high price both financially and with consumer loyalty.”
Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the airline “regretted” the German action and it had invited Vereinigung Cockpit to negotiations on Tuesday, “but they did not respond to this invitation”.
Mr Jacobs added: “We again call on the VC to remove the threat of an unjustified and unnecessary strike, to commit to providing reasonable (7 days) notice of strike action and to accept our invitations to meet for meaningful negotiations on a collective labour agreement for our German pilots and minimise disruption to German customers.”
By Oliver Gill