Ryanair Set To Close German Bases

On Monday, a proposed deal for long-term pay-cuts in exchange for short-term job protection was rejected by a tiny majority of Ryanair’s German pilots. The airline responded swiftly and in force a day later, saying that the rejection of the agreement would lead to the carrier closing its bases at Frankfurt Hahn, Berlin Tegel, and Dusseldorf.

Ryanair, Load Factor, Refunds
Ryanair is closing its base in Frankfurt. Photo: Getty Images

HHN closed by November 1st

After a proposed deal for pay cuts was rejected by a margin of just 0.6% of Ryanair’s German pilots, the airline said it had no choice but to move on with alternative measures to deliver savings.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

This means that its crew base at Frankfurt Hahn International Airport will close on November 1st. Pilots stationed there are to receive individual letters this week with notice periods and final arrangements.

Most likely, those at Berlin’s Tegel and Weeze Airport close to Dusseldorf could also shut down by the end of summer. More details on the exact dates are to follow by the end of the week.

Ryanair behind fence taxi
Ryanair said it was offering the same terms accepted by 70% of its pilot network. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

20% pay cuts with higher demands

According to an internal memo to the carrier’s German pilots seen by Simple Flying, the agreement would have meant that Malta Air, the Ryanair subsidiary that employs the pilots, would have been the only airline in Germany with zero pilot redundancies this winter.

The deal entailed pay cuts for the pilots of 20%, to be restored over four years, as well as short-time work protection. Malta Air also wanted to pay its pilots only for actual flight-hours, while simultaneously demanding higher productivity, something that has sparked outrage with unions.

The carrier said that these were the same conditions already agreed upon with 70% of pilots across the Ryanair network. However, the emergency deal was rejected as only 49.4% voted in favor.

Ryanair, UK Pilots, Pay Cut
The union believes the deal would have been harmful to all German pilots. Photo: Ryanair

Short-term job protection insufficient

Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), the association for commercial pilots representing Ryanair’s German pilots in the negotiations, said in response to the memo that,

“…the demanded collective bargaining agreement would have had the potential to harm both the affected members at Malta Air and the entire pilot community throughout Germany.”

In addition, the VC Board believed the offered job security, until March next year, to be insufficient when compared to the long-term and deep salary cuts extending all the through 2024. Meanwhile, the carrier had also requested the option to hire new staff with even less favorable terms.

Furthermore, the union noted that Ryanair is considering attractive take-off slots at Frankfurt and Munich that need to be vacated by Lufthansa as part of the group’s €9 billion ($10.4 billion) rescue deal. If Ryanair were to be successful in the bidding process, this would then mean a need for more pilots.

The airline said it would deal with surpluses at other bases after closures were finalized. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying.

Union urges further negotiations

Currently, Malta Air employs 470 pilots in Germany, 170 of which could be let go. VC has not given up on reaching a deal that could sway the margins for a favorable vote.

“The employer’s reaction to the refusal followed promptly and in the usual style: instead of responding to the likewise expressed request for renegotiation… Nevertheless, we are not giving up hope. The employer would be well advised to quickly get back to the negotiating table now.”

“Dealing” with surpluses

It is not only pilots stationed at the bases up for closures that need to be worried. The memo further outlined saving measures to be implemented at other German airports, in quite detached terms.

Frankfurt, Cologne-Bonn, and Berlin Schönefeld are all “significantly over-crewed,” and the airline will “move on to dealing with these surpluses through the collective dismissal procedures,” once the base closures are completed.

Karlsruhe/Baden Baden and Memmingen both have “small surpluses which will be dealt with” before the winter season.