Ryanair to Recognize Pilot Unions to Avert Christmas Strike

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary

Budget carrier Ryanair is reversing its longstanding refusal to recognize pilots' unions in a bid to avert strikes over the busy Christmas season.

Ryanair pilots have threatened the one-day strike for better working conditions as well as to gain union recognition.

Ryanair has sought a meeting with the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) on Wednesday, the day planned strike action is set to take place, and has asked the union to call off the strike.

However IMPACT trade union, to which IALPA is affiliated, has indicated that the strike will go ahead as planned if a meeting is not held with representatives of the airline before then.

"The IMPACT union promised to call off the strike if Ryanair conceded recognition".

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Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary's refusal to recognize unions was at the heart of the ultra low-priced model he developed to turn a small Irish regional airline into Europe's largest carrier by passenger numbers, so Friday's announcement represents one the biggest policy shifts in the airline's history.

In its latest statement Ryanair has now said that it will "change its long standing policy of not recognizing unions in order to avoid any threat of disruption to its customers and its flights from pilot unions during Christmas week".

Chief executive Michael O'Leary says the airline wants to ease customers' concerns "that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week".

Despite such difficulties, the airline thinks costs would increase as a result of unionization and last month said it still expected to deliver annual profit after tax of €1.4-1.45 billion ($1.65-1.71 billion).

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