Low-cost airline, Ryanair, has announced that it has opened negotiations with pilot unions from around the world, including Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK. The company has recognized the pilot unions for the first time ever in an attempt to avoid a pilot strike.
“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 this week,” said Ryanair, CEO, Michael O’Leary.
O’Leary hopes to avoid the strike by recognizing the union process. A potential strike would be a major blow to Ryanair, as the company previously announced over 20 thousand flight cancellations earlier this year. Pilots blamed the lack of standby pilots stemmed from poor schedule management from Ryanair’s part.
In addition, pilot groups also took note of an alleged toxic work atmosphere adding that the company is facing a major staffing shortage.
The company’s recognition persuaded Italy’s largest pilot union to cancel a four-hour strike that was planned to commence on Friday afternoon. However, it remains to be seen if the move will convince other unions to suspend their planned strikes for next week in Ireland and Portugal.
Talks of a potential shutdown scared investors as well, with Ryanair shares falling 7.6 percent to 15.15 euros.
Ryanair ensured investors that there would be no changes to the company’s business model, stating that it might be easier to attract pilots by recognizing the unions.
The move, while logical, is a far cry from O’Leary’s previous views on recognizing a pilot union, as he even said at one point that he’d rather cut his hand than give a collective voice to his pilots.
Impact, a union that represents Irish pilots, warned it would go on strike on December 20 while other unions were also threatening a shutdown during the holidays.
The Irish union group said it will respond to Ryanair after considering their offer.
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