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IAA deal with Ryanair over pilots concerns after C4 program

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IAA deal with Ryanair over pilots concerns after C4 program

Old 21st Feb 2006, 07:34
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IAA deal with Ryanair over pilots concerns after C4 program

Air watchdog dealt with Ryanair over role of pilots
The Sunday Independent (Ireland), Sunday February 19th, 2006
(c) 2006 Independent Newspapers Ireland Ltd
THE Irish Aviation Authority has said it has "engaged with Ryanair" over the role of its pilots, after getting dozens of letters from pilots worried about their professional status with the low-cost airline. The pilots warned that they may no longer be able to comply with the conditions of their licences because they may, in effect, be compelled to fly while it might not always be safe to do so. They asked the IAA to support them in restoring their ability to make critical cockpit decisions.
Last week, the IAA said that Ryanair had agreed to "re-affirm the authority of the captain, and a document to this effect has been sent [by Ryanair] to all pilots". The IAA will continue to monitor the situation.
"We have recently reaffirmed the authority of the captain, which has always been Ryanair policy," a company spokesman said. He denied that its management pilots were influenced by commercial concerns.
"Management pilots in Ryanair are not involved in any way in the 'commercial operations' of the airline. The duty of management pilots in Ryanair is to ensure that we run a safe operation at all times," he said.
The unprecedented move by the pilots came in the wake of last October's disciplining of a Ryanair captain for refusing to take on extra flights because he said he was fatigued. Ryanair demoted him to
co-pilot status.
The issue featured in last Monday's Channel 4 Dispatches expose of Ryanair, where a pilot is filmed referring to the demotion as an example of what could happen if he failed to follow strict company policies.
According to pilot sources, the demoted captain had just completed his rostered flights over a five-day period when he was asked to take on an extra return flight. The man is reported to have claimed he could not fly because he was fatigued, but Ryanair management said other issues were also at play.
It is illegal for pilots to fly while fatigued and, according to correspondence seen by the Sunday Independent, the IAA subsequently wrote to the demoted pilot telling him that, if he was indeed fatigued, he acted properly, adding that "such operation would have constituted a hazard to flight safety".
The IAA has said it is investigating the matter further but has also warned the former captain that, under Ryanair rules, he had "responsibilities for the management of fatigue", which might also have applied in his situation.
Ryanair said it could not comment on an individual case. A representative of the Ryanair pilots said they wrote to the IAA because they were concerned that management interprets the fitness-for-duty rule as expecting pilots to be always fit and ready for duty, and makes no allowance for genuinely tired pilots who now fear disciplining or even dismissal.
"We don't 'interpret' the fitness-to-fly rule," a Ryanair spokesman said. "Our ops manual makes it clear that no pilot should fly if he considers himself unfit to do so."
The pilot spokesman said they feared a repeat of last September's incident, when a co-pilot had to take emergency control of a Ryanair jet approaching Rome because the captain failed to cope with the demands of the landing. It emerged that the man had reported for duty just days after the funeral of his young son.
"In fairness to Ryanair, there may have been a good explanation for why he came back to work so soon," said one of the pilots. "But we also have to ask the question - did he feel compelled to come in because he feared his job was at stake?"
There has been a string of safety incidents in recent years, which some pilots say point to a deteriorating safety culture in Irish aviation. The president of the Irish Airline Pilots Association, Captain Evan Cullen, last month told Flight International magazine: "There is no doubt that the safety margins in Irish aviation have been eroded."
Some incidents have affected Ryanair but there have also been incidents in other Irish airlines which, say pilots, point to growing pressure on air crew attempting to cope with the increasing demands of low-cost operations being rolled out by all Irish airlines, and attempting to reduce aircraft turnaround times in line with Ryanair's 25 minutes, and to increase staff productivity.
Ryanair needs to be the subject of a special safety audit concentrating on "human factors", the influential aviation magazine Flight International, has said.
However, the IAA said there is a strong safety culture at Ryanair. In the past 20 years, there hasn't been a single death in an Irish airline accident, but there have been more than a few lucky escapes. Last month marked the 20th anniversary of the last total loss of an Irish aircraft, an Aer Lingus Shorts 360 which came down in a field near East Midlands Airport on January 31,1986.
All survived, with only a few minor injuries. Ice was blamed but human error, potentially a far bigger killer, has played a greater role in other Irish aviation incidents since. (See panel, right.)
Probably the next most serious accident befell a Boeing 737 operated by Futura Air, then an Aer Lingus subsidiary. Its nose-wheel was sheared off and the fuselage was badly damaged in a flawed landing during gales at Shannon in the early Nineties. There were no injuries.
Similar luck has attended many other incidents affecting Irish aircraft over the past decade, any one of which could have had serious consequences. Loss of cabin pressure, which led to the pilots passing out and the deaths of 121 in the Helios Airlines tragedy in Greece last August, is one of the biggest causes of concern.
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Old 21st Feb 2006, 19:31
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It will be interesting to see of the company's corporate culture changes to align with the ops manual. Can anyone post the text of the "letter"?
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Old 21st Feb 2006, 23:56
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No letter of any kind regarding this has been produced to the pilots in Ryanair. Big surprise??
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Old 22nd Feb 2006, 00:22
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Ryanair had agreed to "re-affirm the authority of the captain"
Oh good, that's that then.

In nearly 30 years of working in commerce, I have found that a letter from the management always sorts out every problem.
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Old 22nd Feb 2006, 09:11
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Ryanair has said that it will not single out any of the employees indentified from the programme for any form of adverse action.

Depending upon your point of view this is either: (a) a true statement, (b) a true statement that only remains true for as long as it suits MOL, (c) merely part of the masterful Ryanair P.R. campaign, or, (d) so divorced from previous FR behaviour as to be worth shouting repeatedly from the rooftops.

Just add your own experience / bias to determine which version you prefer!!
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Old 24th Feb 2006, 16:28
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Answer B is the most likely & closest to reality don't you think. The guillotine is been sharpened in the back room out of sight & in a few weeks time will probably claim a few victims when all the fuss has died down for "other " reasons
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Old 25th Feb 2006, 10:59
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Flying Mech I'm not so sure. I certainly am sufficiently familiar with the personalities to know that there will be no outbreak of reasonableness and that "the milk of human kindness" will only flow when certain people have gone. However, there is no doubt that the organisation is ever so slowly learning that vindictive behaviour and retribution now carry certain risks. It won't stop them, but the very fact that the promise of non-retribution was made as part of their P.R. countermeasures suggests that they see the danger - and might even have realised that their reputation is not helped by such stories.

What you can say with some certainty is that were there to be retribution it will be done in a manner that will be very hard to connect with the events concerned. That would leave us, for example here on pprune, with the classic FR related problem of trying to point out a possibility (or even fact) that you can't quite say (and which some ppruners can have difficulty in "reading").

I am reminded of the fact, for example, that pilots in Dublin closely associated with IALPA and/or with standing up for their entitlements in the past have had a remarkably poor employment history with the organisation. There is, of course, absolutely no connection between these different matters and Ryanair have always claimed that such individuals were guilty of transgressions that merited action. Now who would I be to dispute that?
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 04:54
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Without commenting on the veracity of the previous post, the behaviour of punishing without seeming to punish is called "sending a meta message", in human speak this means "sending a message when you don't appear to be sending a message" or in Australia , named after a certain advertisement, a "Claytons message" as in an advertiseent for a drink that "Is the drink you drink when you are not having a drink".

In other words, no one is punished officialy, its just that "bad things" happen to certain people for no apparent reason, and the majority are left to draw their own conclusions - which are usually correct.
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 07:40
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...In the interest of safety and of staying awake after three sectors of night flight, one might wonder if the captain would have the authority to get a cup of tea...without having to pay for it?
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 11:28
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Glueball, on a technicality FR crew are not permited to consume anything from the onboard catering. This, according to a memo to the cabin crew is a "dismissable offence". I have the impression that many pilots are not aware of this, but I have seen the memo and it is indeed real (if a bit hard to believe).

Now, before you all start whining about Ryanair, let's just avoid the whole nonsense about where do pilots (not to mention cabin crew) get food and drink on long duty days with 25 min turnarounds. Let's just remind ourselves that it must be O.K. because the Postholders in Ryanair, not to mention the IAA, must be satisfied that there are adequate answers to such questions. Now just go away and be quiet.
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 13:30
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I do hear that the CAA and DfT are running a project to investigate the aviation industry with a view to implement the new working time directive which the aviation industry has up until recently been exempt from which has allowed the "possible/ maybe/ DEFINATELY" abuse of CAP 371 in the UK that has permitted the LO CO carriers in particular from letting its aircrews taking a break at work. Maybe, just maybe.........

Going away now to be quiet

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Old 26th Feb 2006, 19:20
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Ryanair Dublin Pilots - MOL memo

This appeared on Crewdock (Ryanair Pilot Intranet). Check out the comments re Dublin pilots in point 4. If anyone was in any doubt about this guy's attitude to pilots this confirms what we've all known for some time!!

To: All Ryanair Staff
From: Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive
Date: 22nd February, 2006
Re: Channel 4 Dispatches

Dear Colleague,

Our immediate response to the Channel 4 Dispatches programme last week has been focused on addressing passenger concerns and assuring them (with independent confirmation from both the IAA and the CAA) that there was no substance or evidence to any of the allegations which attempted to show that Ryanair was in breach of either our safety or security regulations.

After 5 months of undercover investigation, Dispatches wrote to us on January 12th detailing 20 separate allegations, the majority of which claimed breaches of our safety and security procedures. We provided written evidence to disprove every one of those claims in so far as they related to safety and security. Both the IAA and the CAA confirmed, on the basis of the written evidence put forward by the programme that there was no substance to these allegations.

The programme was then left with one or two statements made by people giving training courses, or prompted off guarded comments by some of our cabin crew and pilots, which were either untrue or less than complimentary. If this was all they could manage after 5 months of undercover filming, then Ryanair is in pretty good shape.

We offered the programme a live interview or an unedited pre-recorded interview to respond to these allegations, but they turned us down. They offered instead to run a statement from Ryanair at the end of the programme, but even this was censored and edited. By contrast the Dispatches programme refused to provide us with any evidence to back up their claims and finally told us that they “weren’t obliged to provide us” with any evidence.

We decided to publish all of the correspondence between Dispatches and Ryanair on our website, to allow our passengers, the wider media, analysts, investors, and each of you the opportunity to read exactly what this programme alleged to have found, as well as our responses which proved that there is no substance to their allegations.

It was inevitable when Dispatches had no evidence of any safety or security breaches, that the final programme would be heavily edited to feature unguarded comments made by our own pilots and cabin crew. This was why the final programme was more of a soap opera than a documentary. We have now investigated each of these isolated incidents and have identified the staff members who were featured making unguarded comments unbeknown to themselves to secret undercover reporters. Here is what we have done and what we propose to do:

1.All of our manuals and training courses will now be reviewed/rewritten to take out any confusing policies that related to the dual operation of the 200’s and 800’s, now that we are an all 737-800 series airline.

2.The future training courses will be closely monitored to remove any nonsense claims such as that relating to seat 1A on the 200’s, or that the security exam is anything other than “closed book”. We will however continue to encourage our instructors to interact in a friendly and informal manner which tries to put course participants at their ease.

3.We have written to all our handling agents to reinforce our policy that passport checks must be undertaken as part of the boarding procedure.

4.None of the pilots or cabin crew or instructors who featured in the programme will be subject to any disciplinary measures or any other consequences whatsoever as a result of any of the unguarded comments they made in situations where they were being secretly filmed without their permission or authority. Such comments can be heard in the canteens or coffee rooms of most companies and no one should or will suffer any consequences as a result of these comments. After all if whinging or bull****ting was a disciplinary offence, some of our Dublin pilots would have left us long ago!

The important thing to emerge from this 5 month undercover investigation is that Ryanair runs a safe, secure and customer focused airline. Our customer service does not include providing free meals and drinks, business lounges or high fares. Our customer service is about providing passengers with the lowest fares in Europe, transporting them on brand new aircraft, with the best punctuality, the fewest lost bags, the fewest cancellations, and the fewest customer complaints in Europe. This service is delivered by 3,500 professional men and women who do an outstanding job on a daily basis. We may occasionally make mistakes, but our model works. Our passengers like and support what we do, which is why our traffic has increased ten fold from four to over 40 million passengers over the past ten years. Each and everyone of you may rest assured that the safety of our passengers, our people and our aircraft is our No.1 priority. Safety and security in Ryanair will never be compromised.

I hope that together we will all learn from this experience. Ryanair is now a big airline. This was not the first and will not be the last of such “set ups” that newspapers or tv programmes will try to make. What we must all continue to do is to focus on delivering safe, secure, affordable air travel, because this is what will keep our passengers flying with Ryanair and what will allow us to provide well paid, secure jobs for all our people... yep, even the whingers God bless them...

If any of you have any concerns arising from the programme about any aspect of our safety or security procedures, then please don’t hesitate to contact either your Z manager or me directly at the Head Office in Dublin.

Please keep up the good work.
Michael O’Leary
Chief Executive
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 19:28
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Originally Posted by leanmeanflyinmachine
This appeared on Crewdock (Ryanair Pilot Intranet). Check out the comments re Dublin pilots in point 4. If anyone was in any doubt about this guy's attitude to pilots this confirms what we've all known for some time!!
Confirms what? That he has a wry sense of humour?
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 19:32
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I think what he is trying to do is called 'humour'.

I would like to think that people are thick skinned enough to take what is obviously banter.

MOL goes on to say that he thinks his crews are professional and doing a good job.

He is also man enough to realise and admit that people will bitch about him and/or the company behind his back.

I think it is a fairly reasonable response in the manner that would be expected by someone who is a hard nosed business man.

Being hard nosed is how he made his millions, I wish I had his vision.

Having millions in the bank does not always make you popular and the big traditional Carriers have a history of trying to belittle 'upstarts'.

Good luck to him and his company, I say
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 19:43
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Whether you like him or not, his various responses to this scurrilous programme and now this internal communication are highly professional.

When you're the boss, you're the one everyone talks (and whinges) about. That's the way it is.
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Old 26th Feb 2006, 19:52
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I think what he is trying to do is called 'humour'. ......
He is also man enough to realise and admit that people will bitch about him and/or the company behind his back.
ukatco_235, ahhhh ...... such innocence!! It's a bit more than bitching. And what they're "bitching" about has a bit more substance than you seem to think. Don't confuse the highly competent PR response with reality - a reality you clearly don't have to live with or you would not have made those remarks. We don't see too much 'humour' in Ryanair.
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Old 1st Mar 2006, 10:57
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After all if whinging or bull****ting was a disciplinary offence, some of our Dublin pilots would have left us long ago!
........as would the CEO and his entire management team
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Old 2nd Mar 2006, 16:49
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Post The Killer is a rotten shot.

as would the CEO and his entire management team
Apart from the fact that was him who built this airline from nothing, from literally thin air, into THE market Gorilla and industry powerhouse changing the way every airline goes about its business, in the space of 10 years.

Much as your Pprune handle reminds us, Killer, cheap shots and cheap intellect so often go hand in hand, don't they! You'd do well to remember what Heraclitus wrote in The Flux and Fire Philosophy, two thousand five hundred and six years ago, "accept change as inevitable".

Just ask the new CEO of the Orange People...they've gone all exotic on us. Africa and Asia...whatever next?

EasyJet chief plots a more profitable route
By Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent, Financial Times, London.
Published: March 2 2006 02:00 | Last updated: March 2 2006 02:00

After only three months as chief executive of EasyJet, Andrew Harrison is pushing out the boundaries of Europe's second-biggest low cost airline with the launch of its first routes to Morocco, Turkey and Croatia.
The extension of the low fare airline model from the UK to more far-flung destinations will support EasyJet's steady growth in capacity and passenger numbers by about 15 per cent a year. But investors will draw more comfort from Mr Harrison's commitment to improving profitability.
EasyJet's profit margins lag behind those of Ryanair, its Irish rival, and Mr Harrison, the former chief executive of RAC until its takeover last year by Aviva, the leading UK insurance group, said yesterday he was determined to narrow the gap.(good luck, Andyboy)
Mr Harrison said: "We now make £2 profit per passenger. That is a relatively low profit margin, but the goal is £4 per passenger in the next three years. Ryanair makes £5 per passenger. It sells more heavily on their flights. It manages costs very tightly. There's no one thing that makes them that much more profitable. We will improve our revenues and our costs."
Mr Harrison, who last December replaced Ray Webster, the New Zealander who led the airline's operations for most of its first decade, believes that EasyJet can raise its yields (average fare levels) by attracting a growing share of business passengers, who tend to book later and pay correspondingly higher fares.
"The opportunity is there to market ourselves better, in particular to small and medium-sized businesses."
He said the EasyJet business model, with its greater emphasis than Ryanair on flying to primary airports, offering greater convenience and high frequency schedules, would be key to attracting more business traffic.(!)
The main competition would be against the legacy network carriers, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and Alitalia,
rather than against Ryanair
, and EasyJet would be concentrating its expansion increasingly on a series of bases across continental Europe. It already has bases at Berlin and Dortmund in Germany, Basle and Geneva in Switzerland, and at Paris Orly, and its latest base at Milan Malpensa opens this month.
Yesterday EasyJet announced a move into new markets with the launch in the summer of daily services from Gatwick to Marrakesh and Luton to Istanbul, and four services a week from Luton to Rijeka in Croatia and from Basle to Istanbul.
Mr Harrison sought to play down any speculation about a takeover bid for EasyJet from FL Group
, the Icelandic investor that has already built up a 16 per cent stake in EasyJet, and said there were "no significant synergies" between EasyJet and Sterling, FL Group's Copenhagen-based low-cost carrier.
He had met Hannes Smarason, FL Group chief executive, in January at EasyJet's Luton headquarters, but only "in the same way as any other large shareholders. It was a routine meeting. They are all curious to see what the new CEO is like".
Mr Harrison also welcomed the prospect of a takeover bid for BAA from Ferrovial, the Spanish construction, infrastructure and services group, arguing it could lead to a possible break-up of the BAA London airport monopoly.

EasyJet is the second largest operator at both Gatwick and Stansted airports, where it controls respectively 14 and 20 per cent of the take-off and landing slots.

"EasyJet and Ryanair are the biggest operators at Stansted, and we are both vehemently opposed to BAA's business plans there. Where is the sense in that? Competition produces efficiency and that produces benefits for shareholders and customers."
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Old 2nd Mar 2006, 16:53
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Originally Posted by Leo Hairy-Camel
full of quotes aren't you and nothing constructive ever comes from your own brain
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Old 2nd Mar 2006, 17:37
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Apart from the fact that was him who built this airline from nothing, from literally thin air, into THE market Gorilla and industry powerhouse changing the way every airline goes about its business, in the space of 10 years.
Erm is it O'Leary Air now? Could have sworn the Ryan was from Tony Ryan who started it alongside his aircraft leasing endeavours with Mickey acting as his PA to learn the ropes for a few years before he eventually took over.
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