Ryanair shares drop, airline makes historic move to recognise unions

on Dec 15, 2017

Ryanair shares are trading lower Friday, as the budget airline announced it would agree to pilot demands and recognise unions representing its staff.

Ryanair announced Friday it had written to a number of unions in Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, Britain and Portugal, to begin talks about its recognition of the unions as representative bodies for its pilots.

By 1120 BST, Ryanair Shares were trading 3.35% lower at €15.85. That’s over €2 below its recent high of €17.98, achieved on November 21st.

Ryanair putting customers first

Ryanair said the decision to bow to pilot pressure and recognise unions, came as it strove to find a way to avoid planned pilot strikes. Italian pilots were planning to stage a four-hour strike later Friday. It was to be followed by 24-hour strike action from Irish and Portuguese pilots, on December 20th.

“Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week,” Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said in a statement on the Ryanair website.

“If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so, and we have written today to these unions inviting them to talks to recognise them and calling on them to cancel the threatened industrial action planned for Christmas week.”

Historic change

The decision to enter talks with unions to recognise them is a first in the company’s 32-year history. Indeed, one of the initial cornerstones of Ryanair’s European budget airline status, was the decision not to recognise unions.

Ryanair has made it clear, however, that it wishes the unions to form committees, specific to Ryanair pilots and Ryanair pilot issues. “Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere,” the airline said.

Ryanair said it hopes new structures and plans can “be agreed with our pilots early in the New Year.”