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Ryanair (FR/RYR) has said it is willing to recognise unions for its pilots after being hit by strike threats from pilots in 4 of the airline’s core markets.
On Tuesday the union representing Irish Ryanair pilots, IALPA, gave formal notice to the airline that pilots would strike on the 20th December for 24 hours. The move came as pilots from associations in Germany, Italy and Portugal also said they were preparing industrial action including strikes.
In a statement, Ryanair said it would face down any industrial action and accused the unions of representing pilots acting in the interests of competitor airlines such as Lufthansa and Aer Lingus.
But in a surprise move today the airline has given in to pilot demands and has said it is prepared to recognise unions on the condition that they “establish committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues, as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere”
“If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so”
Ryanair said that recognising unions would be a significant change for the Irish no-frills airline but “Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week” adding “If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so”
The airline says it has written to unions representing pilots in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal and invited them for talks.
This is the second time this year that Ryanair has faced pressure from its pilots. Earlier this year Ryanair hit a pilot crisis resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights. Initially, the airline claimed it was a scheduling error but it emerged that hundreds of pilot’s had left the carrier for other airlines over pay and conditions. Ryanair’s CEO Micheal O’Leary went on to publicly refer to his pilots as being “full of their own self-importance” and saying that they had it easy, A move that forced O’Leary to write a letter begging pilots to stick with the airline.
Ryanair has called on the Irish Air Line Pilots Association (IALPA) to call off the strike planned for the 20th December.