Ryanair has been shaking by strike after strike recently. Instead of springing into action to solve the issues raised by pilot and cabin crew unions, the airline is reacting by closing bases. Two bases in Germany will close, with their routes transferring to non-German aircraft. One base will operate on a severely reduced capacity.
The changes, called “modest winter cuts” in the company press release, means that the 4-plane Eindhoven base will be closed. Overseas aircraft will serve most of the routes. The same goes for the 2-aircraft Bremen base, with routes being served by non-German planes. Lastly, the 5-plane base at Niederrhein will go down to three, with the remaining jets to serve most of the routes.
Can this be a part of earlier promises to end strikes by moving the business elsewhere, possibly Poland? Nevertheless, the airline posits that it will look after the affected crew. “We will also now consult with our pilots and cabin crew at these 3 bases to minimize job losses,” writes CEO Michael O’Leary in the statement. “We expect to offer our pilots vacancies at other Ryanair bases but, as we have a large surplus of winter cabin crew, we will explore unpaid leave and other options to minimize cabin crew job losses.”
These changes are happening in part because of strikes causing bigger expenses on EC 261/2004 compensations (since the court ruled that these strikes are covered under this law) and customer confidence is lost. Ryanair continues to call the strikes unnecessary and blames other airlines for riling up the employees.
As a reminder, a large strike on August 28 was coordinated by unions from five European countries, affecting 250 flights and around 30,000 passengers. This was just the latest of the walkouts that have been disrupting the company operations since April. Unions claim that Ryanair is slow to work with them to solve their complaints. The most commonly cited reason for strikes is the unwillingness of the airline to move from Irish contracts and labor laws to national contracts and employees being covered under local laws.
Previously, Ryanair had closed a maintenance depot in Marseilles after a French court decision in 2011 that stated that workers in a French base should work under French law. The airline responded by transferring 200 jobs and plane maintenance facilities to Spain, Italy, and Lithuania instead. O’Leary called the decision of the French court “ill-judged”.