Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, has told staff the airline can avoid many of its planned 3,500 job losses if all staff agree to swallow pay cuts of up to 20%.
O’Leary, who announced plans to cut 3,000-3,500 jobs in May, said on Wednesday that across-the-board pay cuts could be “an alternative to job losses”.
O’Leary told BBC News on Wednesday: “We’ve already announced about 3,500 job losses but we’re engaged in extensive negotiations with our pilots, our cabin crew and we’re asking them to all take pay cuts as an alternative to job losses.
“We’re looking from 20% from the best paid captains, 5% from the lowest paid flight attendants and we think if we can negotiate those pay cuts by agreement, we can avoid most but not all job losses.”
Europe’s biggest budget airline had previously said that it had cut more than 250 staff from its office around Europe and was looking at up to 3,000 cuts among pilot and cabin crew on the back of the coronavirus crisis.
O’Leary initially took a 50% cut to his pay in April and May, and has extended this for this financial year until the end of March 2021.
His offer to staff came as Ryanair began a “big ramp-up” of its schedule to 1,000 fights a day from Wednesday.
“At Ryanair we are doing everything we can to return to flying, so we can reunite friends and family, allow people to return to work and begin to restart Europe’s tourism industry, upon which millions of jobs, especially for young people, now depend,” Ryanair DAC’s chief executive, Eddie Wilson, said.
O’Leary is chief executive of Ryanair’s holding company and Wilson is chief executive of the main airline in the group.
The Welsh government has formally asked Ryanair to postpone flights scheduled for Friday. The budget airline is offering flights to Málaga and Faro from Cardiff airport.
A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We don’t believe these flights should be going ahead.” People in Wales have been asked to stay local, within five miles, as guidance.
On Tuesday, Ryanair’s rival carrier easyJet said it planned to make as many as one in three of its pilots redundant. The airline is planning to cut up to 727 pilot jobs and up to 1,200 cabin crew posts across the UK.
EasyJet started consultations with unions in the UK on Tuesday after announcing last month that it would be making a total of about 4,500 staff redundant across Europe. The airline also plans to close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports.
On Wednesday easyJet said it planned to cut the number of aircraft and employees based in Berlin and has launched a consultation with unions.
“Although we will remain Berlin’s largest carrier we have to adjust our schedule to reflect the demand following the pandemic and focus on profitable flying,” the chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said.