Ryanair Tells Pilots It’s Making Progress Easing Pilot Shortage

Updated on
  • Carrier has hired more than 200 pilots this month: document
  • Pilots from collapsed airline Monarch joining in November

Ryanair Holdings Plc’s effort to ease the shortage of pilots that contributed to months of flight cancellations may be bearing fruit, and could give the carrier leverage in a pay dispute with some existing employees.

Europe’s biggest discount airline hired more than 200 pilots this month, according to a copy of a briefing document the carrier sent to employees on Friday, which was seen by Bloomberg. A group of pilots from the collapsed British carrier Monarch Airlines Ltd. will join in November and the company is seeing “a flood” of applications from pilots at Air Berlin Plc -- an airline in liquidation -- as well as the troubled Alitalia SpA and others, according to the document.

Ryanair is seeking to quell an uprising by some pilots, who were emboldened to ask for richer pay packages after a scheduling debacle that left the Dublin-based carrier without enough crew to cover its timetables, triggering the cancellation of more than 20,000 flights from September through early next year affecting 700,000 customers. The carrier has dismissed demands for better pay and working conditions by an unofficial pilots group.

Airlines that have failed or are on the financial brink are helping Ryanair make its case. The Monarch pilots are joining at the higher pay rates Ryanair pitched to existing employees, according to the document. Pilots at the carrier’s biggest base, Stansted Airport north of London, rejected the offer on Oct. 20.

Still, the European Employee Representative Council that’s trying to organize a single negotiating body across Ryanair’s 86 bases is demanding guaranteed base pay of 150,000 pounds ($197,000) for captains, about 20 percent higher than the offer rejected at Stansted. The group has pledged to organize strikes if a deal can’t be reached.

Ryanair continues to engage with all its pilots, a spokesman said Saturday in an email, declining further comment.

(Updates with company comment in final paragraph.)
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