Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has written to the airline’s pilots offering them significant improvements to their pay and conditions, if they stay with the airline.
The move comes after the budget airline was forced to cancel thousands of flights in recent weeks following an issue involving its pilot holiday rota.
In a three-page letter O’Leary apologises for the changes that caused problems with the rota and said he would beat any deal offered to any of its 4,200 pilots by other airlines, if they remained loyal.
Ryanair has offered pay increases of up to €10k, better payments for extra work, improved conditions and career prospects and a loyalty bonus of €12k is they don’t move to a rival airline.
Ryanair has cancelled over 700,000 passengers’ journeys due to the issues over pilot holiday rota.
Having implored them to remain with the airline for a “for a brighter future”, the letter ends with O’Leary adding “I urge you to stay with Ryanair”.
Mr O’Leary added that Ryanair was a “very secure employer in a very insecure industry” – a reference to the collapse of Monarch – and called the airline’s pilots “are the best in the business”.
He went on to ask the pilots not to allow competitor pilots or their unions “to demean or disparage our collective success” and urged them not to join “one of these less financially secure or Brexit-challenged airlines”.
O’Leary has previously apologised publically for the changes in the rota – brought about to comply with new aviation rules – which led to a shortage of pilots because the airline failed to plan for enough leave.
The airline has maintained throughout that it does have enough pilots, and this letter shows that it wants to hold on to them.
However, one Ryanair pilot who contacted the BBC, said: “It’s the standard. It’s a, How nice we are, followed by a carrot and then a threat.”
Last month the airline announced it was cancelling 50 flights per day and grounding 25 planes for the winter, affecting the travel plans of 715,000 people.
Ryanair announced its first wave of 2,100 cancellations in the middle of September, after it rearranged pilots’ rosters to comply with new aviation rules requiring a change in how their flying hours are logged.
Towards the end of September it announced 18,000 further flights would be cancelled over the winter season. These moves affect more than 700,000 passengers.
It was then forced to improve its compensation to passengers after the airline came in for criticism from the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) over its handling of the crisis, and for not advising passengers fully of their rights.
The airline subsequently emailed 20,000 customers outlining their rights and explaining how and when they will be booked onto other flights.