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Ryanair Holdings Plc’s efforts to calm disgruntled pilots were dealt a blow after crew at London Stansted Airport turned down a wage increase that was meant as a peace offering, people familiar with the matter said.
At a Friday meeting, the majority of flight crew at the budget carrier’s biggest base voted against a deal from Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary for annual raises of up to 22,000 euros ($26,000) for captains and 11,000 euros for first officers, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. A spokesman for Ryanair said it doesn’t comment on “rumor or speculation.”
After years of grumbling over working conditions, Ryanair’s aviators have been emboldened by a crisis that saw Europe’s biggest budget airline scrap more than 20,000 flights over botched vacation planning. Pilots are trying to form a companywide group, bypassing the existing structure which requires each of Ryanair’s 86 bases to negotiate deals separately.
Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson last week wrote to pilots cautioning that the deal on offer, which includes extra scheduling staff, more base managers and an improved IT system, could be withdrawn in the event pilots don’t fall into line. “If pilots continue to be misled by the false promises of unions, then you will delay or miss out on these big pay increases next month,” he said.
Many of Ryanair’s pilots are employed as external contractors under Irish labor law, a crucial part of the Dublin-based company’s ability to operate at lower costs than competitors. Cockpit crew are seeking permanent contracts and benefits in line with local conditions.
Adding to the agitation, Italy’s Fit-Cisl union is proposing a four-hour walkout by Ryanair pilots on Oct. 27, according to the labor group’s website. An Italian strike would be the first since the start of the cancellations and could trigger similar action among staff at other bases.
–With assistance from Tommaso Ebhardt
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.