Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has resorted to writing an open letter asking pilots to stay at the airline.
According to the Independent (Ire.), O’Leary promised pilots the airline would improve compensation and working conditions.
He encouraged pilots to stay away from competitors like Norwegian.
“If you have, or are considering joining one of these less financially secure or Brexit-challenged airlines, I urge you to stay with Ryanair for a brighter future for you and your family,” O’Leary said in the letter.
The fact that O’Leary felt compelled to write this letter demonstrates the magnitude of the Irish airline’s current crisis. The airline has been forced to cancel thousands of flights due to rostering shortages caused by inadequate staffing levels.
In response, Ryanair pilots have started joining unions and more vocally expressing their discontent with the airline. One pilot told the BBC working for the airline was like being in “a communist dictatorship.”
At the airline’s general meeting a couple of weeks ago, O’Leary allegedly said pilots only had to work 18 hours a week on average and that their jobs were not difficult unless the weather was bad or there was a strike.
O’Leary said these comments were “misreported” and that he had been talking about pilots from other airlines, especially those represented by unions that were critical of Ryanair.
In the letter, O’Leary went to great lengths to suggest Norwegian was facing financial difficulties. However, recently released numbers show Norwegian’s low-cost long-haul routes are doing well. Its passenger loads and load factors are both in a better place than they were in September 2016.
Norwegian has lured away nearly 150 Ryanair pilots in 2017.
O’Leary promised Ryanair pilots better pay and more incentives for career training and development. He said Ryanair would use salaries at Jet2 and Norwegian as benchmarks. He also said Ryanair would eventually exceed what those airlines are now paying.