Ryanair warns more than 300 pilots and flight crew members to move to Poland or risk losing their jobs

  • Ryanair, an Irish, ultra-low cost carrier, has been struggling with staffing as Dublin-based pilots and flight crew strike for better benefits and pay.
  • Ryanair announced on Wednesday that it’s cutting its Dublin-based fleet from 30 to 24 aircraft.
  • In letters to about 300 crew members on Wednesday, Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson advised Ryanair employees to move to Poland to avoid being laid off, Bloomberg reported.

Cabin crew at Ryanair have been battling for better benefits and pay.

Last week alone, the Dublin-based carrier canceled flights for 50,000 passengers due to strikes.

In light of recent labour disputes, the low-budget airline announced Wednesday that it will cut six of its 30 planes from its Dublin fleet. More than 100 Dublin-based pilots and 200 cabin crew employees may be laid off as soon as Oct. 28, according to a Ryanair press release.

The advice Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson gave to workers whose jobs were in sudden jeopardy: Move to Poland.

“We would encourage both pilots and cabin crew to update your base transfer requests as an immediate priority,” Wilson wrote in a letter reported by Bloomberg.

Those six Dublin-based planes are moving to Ryanair’s Polish arm, Ryanair chief operating officer Peter Bellew wrote in a press release. That’s thanks to growth in the Polish market as well as the Irish pilots’ protesting, according to the airline.

“We regret these base aircraft reductions at Dublin for Winter 2018, but the Board has decided to allocate more aircraft to those markets where we are enjoying strong growth,” Bellew wrote.

“This will result in some aircraft reductions and job cuts in country markets where business has weakened, or forward bookings are being damaged by rolling strikes by Irish pilots,” he wrote.

Labour advocates said that the Dublin fleet reduction is a way to avoid working out a new labour agreement for the pilots and airline. Some of the demands by cabin crew include better sick pay and an end to high in-flight sales targets, The Telegraph reported.

Low-cost carriers provide a ‘highly precarious’ work environment – but consumers love the cheap tickets

Low-budget airlines have exploded in popularity over the past few decades. Ryanair, founded in 1985, was among the first ultra low-cost carriers.

Now, low-cost carriers comprise more than 40% of all flights in Europe and about a third of flights in the US, Business Insider reported. Carriers like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have had to lower their costs in response, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers told Business Insider last year.

One major way that low-cost carriers are able to keep their ticket prices low is by basing their companies in several different countries.

Norwegian Air, for instance, is based in Ireland and Norway. Ireland’s lax labour laws allows the company to staff its planes with pilots and crew members from outside of Europe,Business Insider’s Ben Zhang reported.

Ryanair is no stranger to trying to side-step international labour laws, as well. Last year, it insisted to the European Union courts that its non-Irish cabin crew should come to Ireland when it has disputes with the Dublin-based carrier. It ultimately lost.

As Zhang reported, low-cost carriers can also offer rock bottom prices because they operate with lower overhead than their full-service competitors. This tends to mean less generous pay and benefits for employees.

But now, some analysts say Ryanair’s middling pay and benefits are working against the company.

“Ryanair has a highly transactional relationship with staff and one that is highly precarious for workers, but now also clearly for the airline,” Geraint Harvey, a senior lecturer in human resources management and industrial relations at the University of Birmingham, told German media company DW.

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