Michael O’Leary says transfers to fast-growing hub his answer to ‘strikes for the sake of it’
Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, has threatened to move more jobs to Poland as the airline faces the prospect of more strikes by crews in Europe.
Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers pledged in December to recognise unions for the first time, but has struggled to reach collective labour agreements with some.
On Monday its pilots in Germany voted overwhelmingly in favour of striking, adding to Ryanair’s recent labour woes. There were strikes last week by Dublin-based pilots and stoppages by cabin crew in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium.
Ryanair operates from 86 bases in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year. Last week it revealed plans to move crew and planes from Dublin, saying strikes there were harming bookings.
O’Leary said on Tuesday he was prepared to cut jobs “in any market” if necessary.
“We are the ultimate opportunistic airline,” he told a news conference at the offices of Ryanair’s Austrian unit Laudamotion.
“We have today – in Ryanair – 20 markets that need more aircraft. We’re short of aircraft in almost every market in which we operate because of the demand for our prices, our services,” he said. He added that those markets included Poland, which is home to its Ryanair Sun unit.
“If some market is being damaged, as the Irish market has been damaged in recent months by these activities, the Polish market is growing hugely strongly for us. The Ryanair Sun is very full, profitable. We need more aircraft in the Polish market – move aircraft to Poland.”
Pilots are demanding more transparent systems for promotions and transfers to reduce what they say is excessive management discretion over their careers, while cabin crew want local contracts and better conditions.
“As long as there’s common sense on their side then we’ll reach agreements,” O’Leary said, speaking of unions and pilots in general.
“If we have people who just want to have strikes for the sake of having strikes then they can have strikes and they’ll find themselves (with) jobs getting moved and aircraft getting moved.”