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A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 landing. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Union Praises Ryanair’s ‘Constructive’ Approach to Minimize U.K. Job Losses

Ryanair’s U.K.-based cabin crew have followed the airline’s U.K-based pilots in accepting a deal to secure jobs as the aviation industry copes with the significant decrease in passenger demand because of the COVID-19 crisis. The 4-year agreement negotiated with the UNITE union includes productivity improvements and pay cuts of between 5-10% giving the carrier a ‘framework to flex its operation’ and a ‘pathway to recovery.’

In announcing the deal, Ryanair’s chief executive officer Eddie Wilson said hundreds of cabin crew jobs would be saved in the U.K. because of the agreement. He added: “The result of the negotiations with UNITE demonstrates the commitment from our cabin crew and their unions in the UK to work with Ryanair as we work our way through this crisis over the next number of years.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland acknowledged the unprecedented circumstances and unsettled times facing the aviation industry and its employees and praised Ryanair’s approach to the negotiations. She said: “Unite has been contending with an incredibly difficult set of circumstances in the aviation sector. The agreement with Ryanair shows that the company has taken a more constructive and less damaging approach to dealing with the issues than many of its competitor airlines.”

Last week the Irish-based carrier announced that U.K. pilots had voted in favor of a deal negotiated between the airline and BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) to secure 260 jobs.

The deal included pay cuts of 20% and ‘productivity improvements on rosters, flexible working patterns and annual leave.’ Ryanair’s Irish pilots have also agreed on a similar deal with the airline by a unanimous margin. However, BALPA announced that a further 70 jobs are still at risk in the U.K. at the airline’s Leeds Bradford, Prestwick, Bournemouth and Southend bases, which are subject to closure.

BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said, “We do not relish accepting pay cuts and this is going to be tough for many of our pilot members. But we are at least pleased to have ensured that the overwhelming number of pilots whose jobs were at risk will continue to be employed.” Over the four-year term of the agreement, the salaries will restore back to 100% of the pre-COVID level. In reference to the proposed base closures, BALPA said: ‘We will remain in negotiations with the airline about those jobs and aim to protect those too.’

Confirmation of the acceptance of the agreements by U.K. pilots and cabin crew is positive news for the airline in a week in which it celebrated 35 years of operation. Further positive signs were indicated in data released by Eurocontrol with Ryanair leading all other European carriers on Tuesday with 932 operated flights. This was a 328% increase in flights over the last two weeks for Ryanair and comes as travel restrictions are eased within the European Union with the summer holiday period just beginning.


  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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