Last Friday afternoon the culmination of years of staff mistreatment came home to roost as Ryanair CEO Michael O Leary made the decision to cancel more than 2,000 flights before its winter timetable starts in November.
The shock announcement of cancellations on Saturday angered hundreds of thousands of customers.
O Leary said they were down to a combination of factors: a mistake with holiday rotas, air traffic control delays and strikes.
But an angry Ryanair staff member has told us the CEO was “not being clear” and the real reason for the majority of cancellations is because Ryanair don’t have enough pilots.
Thanks to our source “Edward” (named changed to protect anonymity) we can now reveal the shocking truth about staff conditions within Ryanair.
“Staff are leaving in their droves, the company is trying to plug holes but failing miserably ,” Edward said.
“Morale is through the floor. If you treat your staff like shit then this is what happens. People have had enough.”
Edward says Ryanair’s already shrinking pilot numbers are diminishing further due to mass defections to Norwegian Air Shuttle and WOW.
“And things are going to get even worse as there are another wave of resignations coming in the next few weeks.”
The first inkling of the impending crisis came last Wednesday when Edward and his colleagues received a memo from Ryanair Chief Operations Officer Micheal Hickey informing them that
“…A tight situation has become one thats negatively impacting our operation.
“The crewing forecast to the end of December is for tighter pilot numbers as the impact of pilot months off together with the beginnings of RST4(pilot recurrent training) decreases pilot availability significantly month on month”
Hickey then goes on to thank the pilots who’ve offered to fly during some of their month off and to say the company will be contacting others who are off for the month of October to
“determine their availability to operate some duties during this month off to protect the integrity of the operation.”
Then on Monday another memo from Hickey informs pilots that to avoid further cancellations
“we are requesting between 1 and 2 blocks of 5 days from every pilot who has already been assigned their month off” and
“In recognition of the impact on you of the need to fly additional days I am implementing the following bonus scheme:
“All current pilots (employee and contractor) who remain operating Ryanair aircraft between Sept and 31st Oct 2018 will receive a once-off €12,000/£12,000 gross bonus for Captains and 6,000/£6,000 for First Officers in Nov 2018, subject to the following:”
“That offer is not good enough” says Edward growing more frustrated “because the 7 conditions its subject to are totally unreasonable.”
“For starters it’s not going to be paid till the end of next year. You have to fly that close to the legal limit of 100 flight hours every 28 over the year, work extra days and you can’t take more than four days sick leave.
“This alone incentivising crew to operate for a monetary bonus, for crew to operate while sick is outright dangerous.”
What’s angered Edward and his colleagues even more is the behaviour of CEO Michael O Leary.
They feel he has laid the blame for the cancellations on them.
“O Leary has been very resourceful with what he says to the media.
“He said pilots at Ryanair earn €150,000 a year, this is fundamentally not true for the vast majority of pilot staff.
“O Leary is portraying us staff as the villains to the media over our leave entitlement.
“He’s blaming the cancellations on our holiday rota, what is left out is that the leave is planned well in advance by management and they knew what to expect.”
Edward says it’s not only the pilots who are leaving the company en masse.
“Operational people, crew controllers, ground staff are all walking out, they’re fed up and because of this the staff experience level is now gone very low%.
“They’ve been trying to attract pilots from Brazil by putting on roadshows there but even if they get new recruits they don’t have the training capacity to get them ready.
“The training programmes for pilots are months behind. Cadets aren’t being trained.
“Things are getting critical due to these staff shortages.
“Crew control are generally so over worked they’ve no time to do anything, When people try to call them they sometimes don’t answer for 5 or more trys, sometimes picking up the phone and just slamming it back down.
“Next year is already all over the shop, they won’t tell us anything but we can see ourselves.”
So what happens next?
Edward says staff are considering many options but feels sitting down and talking with their employer is a waste of time.
“Well they won’t negoitiate in a fair way,” says Edward “they’ll only go through the ERC and since I’ve been involved it’s the same thing every time. They don’t even negotiate, it’s either take it or leave it so there’s no point in approaching them.”
What can Ryanair do to sort out this mess?
According to Edward there may still be a way out of this.
“Our pay increases are all below inflation.
“Year on year since the early 2000’s pay has got progressively worse so we want a pay rise without inflation.
“A transparent leave system that can distribute leave throught out the year
“We’re professional people and need to be treated as such.
“We need to be as on the ball in the 8th or 9th hour of our work day as in the first.
“The company has to start treating staff better, this can’t go on any longer.
“It’s time for a change.”