Unite air industry members were again reeling today (Friday May 1) from the news that Ryanair has announced plans to make 3,000 of its workers in Europe redundant – as well as making cuts to staff’s pay.
The ‘no frills’ airline is planning to cut 15 per cent of its 20,000-strong workforce and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth, in response, it says to the Covid-19 crisis. The airline has grounded its flights.
Ryanair added it did not expect passenger numbers or pricing to return to pre-coronavirus levels until summer 2022 at the earliest.
Ryanair said it had entered the coronavirus crisis with reserves of almost €4bn in cash and continued to “actively manage” those resources in order to survive the pandemic.
As part of a programme of sweeping cost cuts, Ryanair said it could close a number of bases across Europe until air travel recovers. CEO Michael O’Leary told the Guardian that the package of measures, which include unpaid leave for staff, represented the “minimum to survive the next 12 months”.
Unite members working for Ryanair were utterly dismayed.
“This is another premature announcement, especially while the government’s job retention scheme remains fully up and running,” commented Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson.
“Ryanair has significant cash reserves and is in a better place than many airlines to cope with the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has created.
“Ryanair has agreed to consult on its proposals with Unite next week and the union will be arguing that this announcement should be reversed,” Richardson insisted.
It’s been a terrible week for the aviation industry following announcements of staff cuts from British Airways, and the knock on effects for Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
“The statement by Ryanair, which follows hot on the heels of the British Airways announcement, further underlines why it is absolutely imperative that the UK works with all relevant stakeholders to provide long-term financial assistance for the aviation sector,” added Richardson.
“If the government fails to provide such assistance, which is already being offered by other European countries to their airlines, then the UK aviation sector faces a very bleak future.”
By Amanda Campbell @amanda_unite