Ryanair gives ultimatum to French pilots: 20% wage cut or layoff

Expecting losses in the second quarter of 2020, Ryanair plans to cut wages by 20% among pilots and 10% among flight attendants and stewards. The French unions have five days to answer, after which a number of positions judged redundant will be cut.

The Irish low-cost company plans to cut wages by up to 20% for pilots and 10% for cabin crew, according to several confidential documents obtained by the French radio RTL. In addition, new entrants would be paid 10% less than their colleagues. Starting from July 1, 2020, the situation would last until at least 2025, as the employees would gradually recover their salary throughout the next five years.

While Ryanair expects that 3,000 jobs across its entire European network will be cut, it did not precise how many of those positions would be axed in France. The low-cost carrier justified its measures by saying it was facing “a new environment with even lower fares and a distortion of competition due to sales at a loss by ineffective airlines backed by billions of euros in illegal state aid”. The Irish carrier plans to appeal against the $9.8 billion in state aid Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) should receive. In order to gain market shares over its competitors, the low-cost carrier is expected to split the price of plane tickets in half for July and August. 

The French pilot unions have five days to give back their answer, after which “29% of pilots and 27% of co-pilots” identified as redundant at the airports of Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulouse will be dismissed. The same goes for the flight attendant unions, with 27 of the 160 French cabin crew members being in the hot seat.

The SNPNC-FO, the main French union among Ryanair cabin crew, reacted criticizing the “blackmail to dismissal” operated by the low-cost company, which forced flight attendants and stewards to work at “80% of the minimum wage”. The union plans to engage in legal action against Ryanair in the coming days. “It is neither legal nor acceptable from any point of view”, commented Yves Veyrier, secretary-general of the union. “It is predatory behavior”.

As for the pilot union SNPL, famous for its years-long battle with Air France, it decided to cooperate by setting up a collective performance agreement “while waiting for better days”. In exchange, Ryanair committed not to make any redundancies.

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