Ryanair Reaches Deal With Spanish Pilots On Pay Cuts To Save Jobs

Ryanair announced on August 18th that it had reached a pay-cut deal with its Spanish pilots amid the pandemic. The Irish airline, which has been negotiating with unions across Europe, says that the latest success shows commitment and cooperation on both sides. The same cannot be said for talks with Spanish cabin crew unions.

Ryanair, European Aviation, Recovery
Ryanair reaches an agreement for pilots. Photo: Getty Images.

Ryanair reaches a deal for its Spanish pilots

Negotiating pay during the pandemic is an awkward conversation to have. Yet, many airlines are doing it in the interest of saving money. Ryanair has been working out deals to avoid job losses for its staff for months. The carrier is offering its employees job security for the price of a four-year pay cut.

Earlier this week, Ryanair pilots in Spain agreed to the scheme with an overwhelming majority. 80% of pilots in the Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (SEPLA) accepted the deal. They will now receive a 20% pay cut, which will be restored to full pay by 2024.

In addition to this alteration, the pilots will also receive other benefits to sweeten the deal. These come in the form of flexible working patterns, annual leave, and improvements to work schedules.

Ryanair booking desk
Ryanair is dialing down services in the coming months after bookings drop. Photo: Getty Images

Speaking in a recent press release, the CEO of Ryanair Eddie Wilson said,

“We welcome today’s result that an overwhelming majority (80%) of SEPLA members voted in favor of [the] 4-year agreement…The strength of this vote demonstrates the commitment from our Spanish pilots to work with Ryanair as we work our way through this COVID-19 crisis over the next few years.”

A similar deal for the Spanish cabin crew?

However, despite success with its pilots’ union, Spain is still trying to negotiate a deal for its cabin crew. So far, Ryanair says that it has been impossible to negotiate a realistic outcome with the Airlines Cabin Crew Independent Union (SITCPLA) and the Spanish Trade Union (USO).

Ryanair parked
Standstill on agreements with cabin crew unions. Photo: Getty Images

According to its statement, Ryanair said that these two organizations were presenting a “unique” challenge within Europe. It is apparent that Ryanair views this solution as the only alternative to dismissals. Any entity that refuses its proposal risks job losses for staff. Ryanair says that this outcome is now more likely for the Spanish cabin crew.

You only have to look to Germany to see that Ryanair is making good on its word. On July 21st, the airline announced that it would be shutting down operations in Frankfurt Hahn. This was because German pilots voted against salary cuts.

More work to do

In Spain, some of Ryanair’s workforces are now protected; however, across Europe, there are other unions yet to reach a deal. Pilots in Belgium have not yet reached an agreement to safeguard jobs after Ryanair threatened to let 25% of the workforce go.

CEO Michael O'Leary speaking at conference
Negotiations are a surefire way to save job losses. Photo: Getty Images

Similarly, in Italy and Germany, cabin crew employment security still needs to be negotiated. Despite that, Ryanair’s strategy has been mostly successful. So far, 97% of all its pilots have agreed to some form of wage reduction scheme alongside 90% of its cabin crew.

Such negotiations are vital as the airline threatened it could have lost a fifth of its staff if agreements weren’t made. This news comes alongside reductions in Ryanair’s capacity for September and October. 

What do you make of this story? Does Ryanair have a good deal for its pilots? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.