Airlines Are Poaching Ryanair’s Angry Pilots and Cabin Crew

Jul 26, 2018

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Rival airlines are attempting to woo away and hire the scores of disgruntled pilots and cabin crew at Ryanair.

The Dublin-based low-cost carrier currently has pilots and crew striking over pay and work conditions in four European countries: Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

And Ryanair’s competitors smell an opportunity. With an impeding global pilot shortage looming over growth opportunities for airlines around the globe, rival carriers are rolling out the welcome mat for cockpit crew and flight attendants.

A talent acquisition manager for British Airways, for instance, posted on LinkedIn Wednesday — the day Ryanair’s two-day strike began — that the airline has reopened its pilot recruitment program “in light of industry news today.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports British budget carrier EasyJet announced Thursday that it’s recruiting 1,200 new flight attendants to join its ranks. Likewise, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced on Wednesday that it’s expanding its pilot recruitment at its base in Dublin — Ryanair’s headquarter city.

Norwegian is most likely trying to target the 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew staffers that Ryanair said will likely be laid off as it reduces its Dublin-based fleet by 20% (down from 30 aircraft to 24) this winter as a result of the strike. The aircraft instead will be moving to Poland. Ryanair’s advice to those facing layoffs? Move to Poland if you want to ensure your jobs. That’s what the airline’s Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson told Bloomberg.

It’s unclear how Ryanair plans to scale in the future with a widespread pilot shortage beginning to take hold worldwide. Emirates, for instance, began feeling the effects of the shortage and was forced to start cutting flights due to lack of pilots. Fewer flights mean fewer fares, which equal fewer profits.

Ryanair’s two-day strike will affect at least 50,000 passengers on Wednesday and Thursday, as roughly 600 flights are canceled during the peak travel season. Many of the affected passengers, though they were grounded, were nonetheless supporting the demonstrating workers on Twitter.

The airline said Thursday that it would not be compensating passengers who were delayed because of the strike, even though that would violate regulations with the European Union. Under the legislation EU261, airlines are compelled to give EU passengers compensation for long flight delays. Passengers are also entitled to €250 (about $291) when a flight is canceled without two weeks’ notice. That is in addition to a refund or new flights.

“Ryanair fully complies with all EU261 legislation, however as these flight cancellations were caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due,” a Ryanair spokesperson told the Express. “Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control.”

However, the Civil Aviation Authority, the EU’s aviation body, disagrees.

“When a flight cancellation is caused by strike action by the airline’s employees, the airline is required to pay compensation to passengers in respect of the cancellation of the flight, if it has not warned passengers of the cancellation at least two weeks prior to the scheduled time of departure,” the CAA told the Express.

So, if you are a canceled Ryanair passenger seeking compensation for this strike action, get ready for a fight.

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