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A Laudamotion A320 aircraft (Photo: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0))

Ryanair Shuts Down Lauda’s Vienna Base Following Union Disagreement

The parent company of Laudamotion, Ryanair Holdings, has decided to close the company’s base in Vienna, resulting in job losses for more than 300 Lauda employees.

The airline, which takes its name from the late Formula 1 legend and ex-airline owner Niki Lauda began operations in 2018 under the Laudamotion name. Ryanair completed the takeover of the company in January 2019, making Lauda the only airline within the Ryanair group to operate Airbus aircraft.

The announcement today comes as no real surprise after Ryanair had publically warned the local workers union that should it not accept a change in terms and conditions then the base would have to close.

Lauda has blamed the local union Vida for the closure of the base, which accounted for around half of its 27 A320 aircraft.

Lauda joint chief executives Andreas Gruber and David O’Brien said: “Shamefully, the Vida union ignored the wishes of over 95 percent of pilots and 70 percent of cabin crew at Lauda’s A320 Vienna base and has destroyed over 300 well-paid jobs.”

Lauda also placed some of the blame at the Austrian government for its “inaction” and using almost €800 million ($873 million) in state aid to support Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines.

The disagreements between union and company come after Lauda wanted to reduce the costs of its operations, essentially change the working conditions and pay for its workers, under the threat of losing their jobs should they not accept. Vida, the transport union, refused to sign a new collective labor agreement where the income of employees would be below the threshold of poverty risk and below the minimum income for Austrian workers. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary had warned the union that if the agreement wasn’t made the Lauda base would close and Ryanair aircraft would move in.

The union said it will “not be blackmailed and will not sign an agreement, which with €848 euros net starting salary for flight attendants is clearly below the minimum security in Vienna (€914) and even more clearly below the current poverty risk threshold 2019 of €1,259 per month for one person.”

For years Ryanair has been highly regarded as having one of the worst employment relations in the industry. It took the airline 32 years to formally recognize a union representing pilots even though at the time the company would still refuse to acknowledge or negotiate with any union for cabin crew. The company had to pay compensation after wrongfully dismissing a captain who handed a cabin crew member a union form.

For now, Lauda will continue to operate out of its other bases in Dusseldorf and Stuttgart, Germany, and the island of Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Lauda’s plan to open a base in Zadar, Croatia, has been pulled.

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