Coronavirus: Ryanair pilots agree 20% pay cut amid job loss warnings

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Ryanair planes parked at Stansted Airport, one of the airline's major bases, on Tuesday. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Ryanair pilots have agreed to a 20% pay cut in order to avoid job losses.

Pilots union BALPA said on Wednesday that 96% of Ryanair pilots voted to take a temporary 20% pay cut in order to save 260 jobs.

Negotiations between the union and Ryanair continue as 70 roles remain at risk of redundancy.

“This is a terrible time for aviation and for employees in all airlines,” Brian Strutton, BALPA general secretary, said in a statement.
 
“It was our members’ mandate for us to save as many jobs as possible. In the circumstances this is the right thing to do even if it means accepting difficult temporary reductions in pay.”

The deal cut with Ryanair management will see pilot pay gradually return to pre-cut levels over the next four years.

The agreement came hours after Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary warned around 3,500 jobs would be slashed unless staff agreed to a series of pay cuts.

READ MORE: Airbus to slash 15,000 jobs from global workforce

The airline is seeking pay cuts of up to 20% for flight crew and 10% for attendants across Europe, but faces pushback from trade unions.

“We've already announced about 3,500 job losses but we're engaged in extensive negotiations with our pilots, our cabin crew, and we're asking them to all take pay cuts as an alternative to job losses,” O'Leary said in an interview with the BBC.

“We're looking from 20% from the best paid captains, 5% from the lowest paid flight attendants — and we think if we can negotiate those pay cuts by agreement, we can avoid most but not all job losses,” he said.

Ryanair resumed flights on almost 90% of its route network on Wednesday, albeit with just 40% of its usual July capacity.

Over 1,000 flights will be operated by Ryanair from Wednesday, and the airline expects to carry more than than 4.5 million customers in July overall.

O’Leary on Wednesday called the resumption of flights “an important turning point for Ryanair and for the tourism industry of Europe, which supports so many jobs and small businesses.”

READ MORE: Ryanair threatens job losses if pilots don't accept pay cuts

The aviation industry is confronting an unprecedented crisis in coronavirus, as airlines and manufacturers face a collapse in demand from travellers. 

French plane maker Airbus (AIR.PA) on Tuesday (30 June) announced plans to cut 15,000 jobs from its global workforce, citing the impact of the pandemic.

A report from think tank the New Economic Forum has warned that as many as 70,000 jobs linked to the aviation industry were at “immediate” risk due to the coronavirus pandemic.