Ryanair reaches $5M settlement in dispute with shareholders over pilot unions

Ryanair settled a lawsuit, which alleged that it lied to investors about its union position
Bradley Caslin / Shutterstock.com

Ryanair has reached a $5 million settlement with its shareholders who alleged that they were deceived by the carrier’s comments about its willingness to recognize unions. 

The settlement was agreed between both parties, putting the United States (US) Class Action lawsuit, launched by the City of Birmingham Pension Fund in 2018, to rest.  

Following mediation between Ryanair and the pension fund, the airline said it has agreed to pay the latter $5 million, after a US District Court judge “dismissed many of the claims made by the plaintiff, considerably narrowing the grounds for action” in 2020.  

“The total settlement amount is $5m, which is considerably less than the legal costs that would have been incurred had this action gone all the way to trial,” read a statement by the airline, attributed to a spokesperson and issued on June 7, 2023.  

“Ryanair contends there was no lawful basis for this claim, but that the settlement is in the interest of all shareholders due to the very modest settlement amount. The final settlement agreement will be subject to approval by the Court,” the statement added.  

Michael O’Leary, chief executive officer (CEO) of Ryanair, famously said that “hell would freeze over” before the carrier would have unions. Three months later, in December 2017, Ryanair recognized unions at the airline, averting a strike. 

The unions still began industrial action in the summer of 2018, with several one-day strikes occurring in July 2018, which were organized by the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA). A month later, IALPA was joined by pilots in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden, resulting in 400 canceled flights over a period of 24 hours. 

In December 2022, the United Kingdom (UK) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reached a settlement with Ryanair, allowing passengers to claim compensation for the flight disruptions. Previously, the airline tried to argue that the strike was an extraordinary circumstance which, under the European Commission’s (EC) regulations, would have allowed Ryanair not to compensate passengers. 

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