Leaked memo shows Ryanair intends to hire more pilots after rostering disaster

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Michael O'Leary Ryanair CEO
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary.
REUTERS/Yves Herman

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair is to increase the number of pilots it
employs directly and hire more staff to respond to their queries
as part of a new program to improve its pilot management,
according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

The airline in September cancelled 20,000 flights, saying
rostering problems had left it without enough standby pilots to
operate without significant delays. The resulting wave of
passenger outrage threatened to undo the success of its “Always
Getting Better” customer service drive.

Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers has responded by
promising pilots improved pay and conditions, which it says
exceed those offered by rivals.

In the memo, Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson said almost 20 of
Ryanair’s 86 bases had voted for the pay deal as of Friday.
However, a number of bases, including its largest hub at London
Stansted, have rejected the offer.

Some pilots have been using September’s rostering issue to press
for better conditions and the creation of a pan-European
representative body; Ryanair has long opposed recognizing unions.

Ryanair said in the memo sent on Friday that it would
“dramatically increase” the number of pilots employed directly
rather than by outside agencies; over 180 first officers would be
offered Ryanair contracts in November, and 300 more offers would
be made by December.

It also said it had hired 1,040 new pilots this year, with the
newest entrants receiving the better pay terms, and that it
expected another 400 to join by March, bringing its crewing ratio
to 11.0 pilots per aircraft from 10.5 by the time the busy
European summer schedule begins.


FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair plane prepares to land at Manchester Airport in Manchester, Britain, March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo Thomson
Reuters

A new crew control mobile phone app has also been introduced to
speed up the logging of absences, and the memo says Ryanair will
double the number of base managers to eight in the weeks ahead to
“respond even faster to even more pilot queries”.

“We have launched an Always Flying Better (AFB) program to fill
the infrastructure gaps in pilot communications, admin support
and effective structures for resolving pilot queries,” Wilson
said.

Wilson also said a problem with allocated leave for December had
caused inconvenience to a small number of pilots.

Some pilots have said that a significant number of their
colleagues have reported being assigned annual leave days without
consultation.

Asked for more detail, a spokesman said Ryanair did not comment
on its internal communications, or its direct engagement with
staff. 

(Writing by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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