Ryanair pilots threaten bank holiday flights for 250,000
THE Bank Holiday plans of up to 250,000 Ryanair passengers were in the balance last night amid a furious row over the pay of its pilots.
The budget airline is locked in a bitter dispute with a union over the pay and perks of pilots who are threatening to strike tomorrow and Friday.
Its lawyers are making a last-ditch High Court legal challenge today to block the industrial action.
Experts warn if the protests go ahead they could disrupt the holiday plans of passengers booked on up to 1,714 Ryanair flights due to depart from UK airports including Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.
Members of pilots union Balpa want better conditions, including new ‘standby allowances’ for when they are on call or standby.
But a leaked internal memo says pilots already enjoy generous basic packages worth six figure when topped up by allowances and bonuses.
The memo details how UK-based captains already receive annual pay packages worth up to £170,000 a year. Ryanair says the union is demanding rises worth between 62 per cent and 121 per cent over two years.
The document focuses on the packages of five UK-based captains at the forefront of the dispute who are all members of Balpa’s Ryanair Company Council.
This council was set up last year to represent Ryanair pilots, after the budget airline finally agreed to recognise trade unions.
One pilot on a package of £158,042 a year is said to be demanding a rise which would push up their total package to £349,922 in 2021. The strike has been backed by around 350 of the airline’s 1,250 UK-based pilots.
But Ryanair hopes there will not be ‘significant disruption’ because it has pilots on standby. Another walkout is due to take place between September 2 and September 4. This could affect many more families flying home before the end of the school holidays, raising the prospect of passengers stranded abroad.
Ryanair spokesman Eddie Wilson said: ‘Balpa should not be disrupting customers and their families with excessive and unexplained demands for pay increases.’ The details of the packages enjoyed by Ryanair pilots are fiercely disputed by Balpa. It said they had been ‘exaggerated’.
Officials say the average basic for captains is between £70,00 and £75,000 and the average first officer’s basic is between £30,000 and £35,000.