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Ryanair - A Guide for Prospective Pilot Employees

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Ryanair - A Guide for Prospective Pilot Employees

Old 4th Mar 2006, 08:11
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Post Ryanair - A Guide for Prospective Pilot Employees

Instead of being

Last edited by captaink; 27th Oct 2006 at 22:00.
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Old 4th Mar 2006, 12:08
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Why didn't you post it?
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Old 4th Mar 2006, 14:25
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I Have read the said document and i can tell you that it is fundamental reading for anyone even contemplating joining ryanair.It will appear very soon.
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Old 4th Mar 2006, 20:47
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Originally Posted by the grim repa
I Have read the said document and i can tell you that it is fundamental reading for anyone even contemplating joining ryanair.It will appear very soon.
Is this based on your own experience with the airline, or is second hand information even from a friend you know who flew for Ryanair?
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Old 4th Mar 2006, 21:07
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This has been around for months has it not?
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Old 4th Mar 2006, 21:45
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Originally Posted by Aloue
This has been around for months has it not?
Has it??

Somebody post a copy!
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 07:47
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Part 1:

Ryanair – A Guide for Prospective Pilot Employees

This document has been compiled from information obtained from a substantial number of Ryanair pilots at different Ryanair bases. All the examples, quotations and information contained in this document are believed to be accurate; however, if corrections are suggested or contrary information is available we will be pleased to incorporate this by making suitable modifications, deletions or qualifying statements. You can submit comments and observations by e-mail to [email protected]


In 2004 the REPA (Ryanair European Pilots Association) website was established to give a “voice” to Ryanair pilots and to provide a forum giving anonymity to its members in order that they can communicate freely with each other without fear of repercussions. The formation of the REPA site was made necessary by the strongly anti-collective representation / anti-union stance of Ryanair management. There is little doubt that many Ryanair pilots fear the consequence of being identified by management if they engage in any form of collective discourse or action.

REPA is neither neutral in respect of the matter of representation for professional pilots, nor do we condone in any way some of the activities and dispositions for which Ryanair has become well known. That being said, Ryanair has a number of very positive employment aspects and, as has been frequently said, by and large Ryanair pilots are proud of their company and they certainly wish to see it continue to prosper and develop commercially. REPA shares this desire and agrees with those REPA members who point out that with appropriate changes to personnel policies it could rapidly become a fine organisation. What follows should be read in the light of these remarks.

At the end of the discussion we have provided some additional information taken from surveys on the REPA site, feedback from Ryanair pilots, etc. as well as a general checklist of items to verify before committing to employment with Ryanair.

This is a relatively long document as the Ryanair employment environment for pilots can be complex and difficult to understand. It certainly is different from any expectations based on general airline experience. We believe that we should provide as wide a range of information as possible in order to give readers the opportunity to fully inform themselves. It was written as a result of the many e-mails from prospective Ryanair pilots - and to which we have so far been unable to reply in sufficient depth.

Ryanair – A Successful Low Cost Carrier

Ryanair is a highly successful low cost carrier. It has enjoyed strong growth in its route structure and in the employment of pilots and other staff. It continues to make substantial profits and to achieve ambitious growth targets. Ryanair operates over 220 routes across almost 20 European countries from more than14 European bases. It plans many more bases in the future and has the stated ambition to become the largest airline in Europe. It certainly is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Ryanair will be successful in achieving this objective.

There are no overnight stops and the roster, which is split into “earlies” and “lates”, is notably stable for most pilots. This is widely perceived to be a particular advantage of working for Ryanair. Ryanair pilots work hard, in terms of hours achieved per annum. It is normal to fly up to the annual maximum limit of 900 flight hours, sometimes in less than a calendar year. While average Ryanair pay is not as high as Ryanair claims, the reality is that the high number of hours and sectors flown generate sufficient “sector payments” to ensure that pay is higher than the norm for the low cost airline sector.

Ryanair repeatedly claims that its pilots are the best paid in Europe. On any normal basis of calculation this claim is completely misleading. Ryanair make up for this deficiency by repeating their claim loudly and frequently. However, if one talks in terms of take home pay and the low cost carrier sector, Ryanair pay for many pilots - but by no means all – is above average. Nonetheless, for specific minorities in the Ryanair pilot group pay is well below the industry average. In essence high cash payments hide the absence of benefits, such as pension provisions, as well as the impact of various deductions for items which most airlines provide as a matter of course (Identity Cards, uniforms, etc). In addition there are unresolved questions over social security payments and the entitlements, for example, of pilots in some bases to full health care benefits.

The Ryanair Pilot Population

The pilot population in Ryanair is mixed and varied. In general it is a “young” company and it boasts pilots of many different nationalities and cultures. Pilots are moved into and out of bases quite regularly, for various reasons. With the significant exceptions of Stansted and Dublin most bases tend to have around 30-40 pilots and the further they are away from Dublin the more harmonious things seem to be. Stansted, the largest single base, has a highly fragmented pilot population. This is partly due to concerns about discussing things with colleagues (which is fuelled by the assertive management style), partly due to cultural/language differences and just partly due to size. It would be true to say that mutual pilot solidarity and support have not been the norm in Stansted. In addition there are a relatively high number of “contractor” pilots in Ryanair, a large number of whom are employed in Stansted. Contractors are a significant, and constantly changing, part of the Ryanair pilot workforce; they serve a multitude of purposes for Ryanair and while their pay varies, they are often by far the best paid Ryanair pilots.

Judging from surveys on the REPA site and other information (see below) the vast majority of Ryanair pilots view Ryanair as an “airline of transition”. In the long run this perception is very unlikely to be accurate for a large percentage of Ryanair pilots. While most Ryanair pilots seem to believe that they will “move on to a better airline in the near future”, few seem to appreciate that what the very things they wish to escape from are increasingly becoming the norm elsewhere as Ryanair practices are adopted by other carriers. Furthermore, it is simply a fact that not everybody can expect to move on from an airline of Ryanair’s size.

This “moving on” orientation seems to be shared by Ryanair. It is believed that Ryanair management would prefer pilots who would join as a young cadet, fly hard, be promoted early and then leave after around ten years employment. This appears to reflect the strong under-current of ideology to be found in all of Ryanair’s dealing with its staff and customers as well as their desire to avoid any long-term or social commitments, such as pensions, in respect of their employees. The underlying model seems to be one of an almost purely market driven employee population in which “contractors” play a stabilising and controlling role. Ryanair strongly prefers to treat its pilots as individual employees rather than as a collective body (which they refer to as “direct negotiation”). As has been comprehensively demonstrated, such an approach to pilot management has considerable advantages for Ryanair.

Employment Contracts, Commercial Assertiveness and Public Relations

Ultimately this “direct negotiation” invariably means that each person must look after their own interests and one undoubted consequence is that individual employment terms for pilots in Ryanair can vary very widely. Their Terms and Conditions depend upon a range of factors, including personal negotiating skills, the market at the time of employment, the base involved, the level of determination by each pilot to ensure that his or her contract is honoured, and so forth.

It follows that there is no such thing as a common contract of employment in Ryanair, though in recent years certain common aspects can be identified. The absence of a common contract of employment, published pay scales, clear Terms and Conditions, a published seniority list - and so forth - leads to many complications and makes it difficult to make definitive statements about, for example, how much pilots are paid, what their entitlements are and so on. For every claim, a counter-example can invariably be found.

Ryanair is known for its assertiveness towards customers, suppliers and various websites set up by those unhappy with their experience with Ryanair. Ryanair has been quick to escalate their use of the law in what appears to be an attempt to intimidate the faint of heart, even where the Ryanair position is weak, or just unreasonable. The case of Ryanair’s 1,000,000th passenger provides an excellent example of a case sustained well beyond the point where it was sustainable, fair or even sensible. However, Ryanair has apparently concluded that such assertiveness works well in dissuading employees and others from taking action to seek redress for their problems.

Judgments vary regarding the assertiveness and drive for which Ryanair is well known. In the eyes of some it is a mark of an innovative and driving business, as well as the key to its commercial success. In the eyes of others the same corporate orientation can be described as intimidating and bullying towards those who stand in its way, whether they are passengers, airport authorities, governments or employees. Nonetheless, corporate assertiveness is often sustained to the point where it damages Ryanair itself. The organisation is not noted for its sympathy towards those who are disadvantaged in any way, whether passengers or employees.

Ryanair claims to be an equal opportunities employer, but employs a low percentage of female pilots and the numbers are out of line with the industry norm.

Ryanair has a very outgoing Public Relations presence and never fails to hammer home its key messages at every opportunity. They exaggerate the positives and never mention the negatives, except to “spin” them to Ryanair’s advantage. The airline is consistently “on message”. The airline is clever in its use of the English language and has frequently been accused of making misleading, if literally true statements. For example, the statement “Our share option scheme has seen returns of €230,000 in 5 years for existing pilots” does not mean, for example, “our existing pilots have received free share options, which can now be realised for €230,000”. Similarly, the figures used to “prove” that Ryanair pilots are the “best paid in Europe” depend upon a questionable use of statistics and only seem to be believed by Ryanair, the press (and even some of its pilot employees).

Central to the functioning of Ryanair is the Chief Executive, Mr. Michael O’Leary, who is increasingly seen as a controversial leader.

Ryanair – A Controversial Employer

There are a lot of rumours and stories about how Ryanair treats its employees and any regular reader of PPRuNe (www.pprune.org) will be familiar with Ryanair’s highly controversial profile. These rumours are sometimes untrue, but most appear to have a basis in fact. As with most rumours, there is a tendency for a bit of exaggeration to be added with each retelling and caution is appropriate. Nonetheless, many of these rumours and stories convey enough information to suggest that caution and some research is indeed merited before signing up for employment with Ryanair. More importantly, they provide guidance as to what you should do before you commit to joining Ryanair, or before signing any document which contains potential financial penalties, such as a training bond. (It should also be mentioned that some prospective pilot employees have believed that what is said, for example on PPRuNe, “must be exaggerated” and only discovered afterwards that they should have listen more carefully to the warnings about certain Ryanair practices).

“Direct Dealing” and Ryanair Employees

Few would disagree that Ryanair is led by a forceful Chief Executive who is well known for his unconventional dress, style of management and use of colourful language. The company is aggressively anti-union and views any collective action in a very poor light, even if no union is involved. Ryanair claims that it prefers “to deal directly with its pilots”. However the consequences and realities of this “direct dealing” are also controversial. The results of “direct dealing” are a frequent subject of discussion on the REPA site and elsewhere.

The statement “we prefer to deal directly with our pilots” is not only a statement of opposition to collective action of any kind, but also a manifestation of the airline’s desire to “deal” with employees on a “one to one” basis. Quite what that means is discussed below.

The absence of unambiguous and reliable information presents everyone with problems in discussing Ryanair pilot employment. In an application to the Irish Labour Court in 2004, the Court was asked for a ruling that Ryanair must provide its pilots with copies of their contracts of employment. (Ryanair states that such claims are nonsense as their pilot employees know their terms and conditions of employment). Among the applicants were several pilots who have been with Ryanair for around twenty years.

Not only are there multiple different written contracts, but these have often been modified arbitrarily by new management decisions, or even changed simply by issuing a memo. By way of example, one recent memo simply announced that certain pilot contracts contained an “error” and declared the relevant clause inoperative – but without any discussion or prior notice.

Some unilateral changes made to pilot contracts are arguably illegal, apart from anything else, but it is interesting to note that such changes are rarely legally challenged by Ryanair pilots. This, we believe, is a telling observation simply because it raises the obvious question “why not?”. It also raises the issue of how employees in such an employment environment can hope to protect their interests, even to the extent of ensuring that what is said in their contract has any meaning.

Ryanair pilots talking to REPA, BALPA and IALPA are unanimous in agreeing the reason for the lack of a direct legal challenge, even where legal advice suggests a case would be successful. Quite simply, it is the fear of being subsequently targeted by management as a “trouble-maker”. Ryanair “enjoys” the reputation of being a company which never forgets such behaviour, even where it involves seeking a contractual entitlement. An additional consideration is that Ryanair has the reputation – with a lot of supporting evidence – of being willing to escalate legal action (and costs) in the hope of encouraging the plaintiff to withdraw (or never to start) legal action. The evidence suggests that most employees have absorbed this lesson.

The effects and consequences of this state of affairs can be far reaching. Thus, while some pilots report no problems, other report that it is important in certain circumstances to “curry favour” if certain career advances are to be achieved. It is equally important to emphasise that in some Ryanair bases there is no evidence whatsoever of such practices.

Some things that make Ryanair Different

One issue which is frequently mentioned are pay deductions for items that would be considered by most employees to be included as part of their employment. These include items such as car parking at work, uniforms, identity cards, water on board, medicals and so forth (buying and consuming water provided on board the aircraft is, according to one Ryanair memo, a dismissible offence). In general, Ryanair holds that it is the responsibility of pilots to pay for all the equipment essential to the discharge of his or her duties, often including the cost of a type rating. In the case of uniform charges, this is a permanent monthly charge until employment ends. Depending upon the state of the pilot market at the time of employment - or upgrade - training bonds have varied considerably. Some pilots have had no bond, while some have even signed up for a substantial five-year non-reducing bond.

Others have been contractually obliged to join on the basis of a substantial B737-200 bond, only to be asked for a new 737-800 bond (or payment in advance) within three years. These commitments may total in excess of €40,000, a figure which might exclude accommodation and allied expenses approximating to another €12-15,000). Some pilots joining later than this group of pilots did not have to pay anything for their B737-800 rating. Pilots have reported to REPA that, having taken out loans of these magnitudes to cover paying for a type rating - which was a condition for his employment - they subsequently found themselves in difficulties because of the slowness and irregularity of line training. When finally line qualified, there was a shortage of flying sectors because of the training requirements of others and further borrowings became necessary.

While it is not clear how widespread the practice is, an increasing number of new or junior pilots throughout 2005 reported difficulties in obtaining entitlements outlined in their contract. When they query this they are told that there was an error in their contract. Typical issues involving claims of an “error in your contract” are: moving onto basic pay for the first time and moving from “half sector pay” to “full sector pay”. Typically the point at which this was due to occur is put forward in some way, e.g. a payment expect after Base Check is not due until “after your Line Check”, or after the Line Check becomes “at the end of your first year”.

From time to time a not insubstantial number of pilots have found themselves “employed” by Ryanair, or one of its intermediate employment surrogates, in circumstances where they go without any form of salary for long periods (the longest period so far reported to REPA exceeds 8 months). The normal trigger for this state of affairs is a delay in the training process, most frequently a training bottleneck or a lack of instructional resources. Ryanair are careful to ensure that non-productive trainees are not entitled to pay and the consequences have led to particularly difficult circumstances for many pilots. Those most prone to such difficulties are those without a type rating or a current licence, especially “cadets” (very low time F/Os) and others having poor job prospects elsewhere.

Bonding arrangements have resulted in substantial deductions from the final pay cheque(s) on leaving the airline. While many observers note that such un-agreed deductions are probably illegal, this does not seem to be a consideration for Ryanair, which tends to deduct first and worry about any consequences afterwards. Attempts to seek legal redress inevitably carry the risk that rapidly escalating legal costs will quickly ensue (for example, by adding a counter-claim for the cost of employing a “contractor” to replace the departing pilot).
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 07:56
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Part 2:

Ryanair is very much an airline of individuals working for the same employer. The airline apparently does not encourage a sense of common purpose. As a consequence there is often a feeling of impotence against a very assertive and powerful management. Pilots feel uncertain as to their rights and this state of affairs is unlikely to be by accident. It is certainly true that any collective action challenging Ryanair has typically been a very painful and difficult process. Many pilots tend to be relatively apathetic in the face of such difficulties and rationalise their situation as being temporary and, hence, acceptable - “I only have to put up with this for a few years before getting enough hours to get a job with a better employer”.

Ryanair has claimed that it is modelled on the highly successful U.S. Low Cost Carrier Southwest Airlines. This claim has been successfully established in the minds of many external observers including most of the media and investor communities. Those with even a passing familiarity with the realities of life in the two airlines will know that the positive pro-employee disposition of Southwest management is completely different from the employee relations encountered in Ryanair.

Ryanair Pilot Employment Contracts – Some Issues

There appear to be two main types of employment contract, issued under either Irish or UK law. In general “permanent” pilots based in the U.K. have U.K. contracts of employment whilst those employed in Ireland and in all continental bases generally hold Irish contracts of employment. This latter arrangement facilitates Ryanair in a number of ways, including certain practices collectively termed “social dumping” (which refers to the avoidance of social payments in countries having higher employer social contribution rates). So called “contractor” or contract pilots with Ryanair are invariably employed by intermediaries, or external agencies. It is widely believed that some of these are managed by individuals having close contact with Ryanair.

Ryanair is unique in that the Terms and Conditions of employment enjoyed by pilots vary widely and that these Terms and Conditions can be changed, sometimes literally overnight, without any prior notice or discussion. Moreover, some of the contract clauses give considerable power to Ryanair to make changes that may have a radical impact on a pilot’s life. For example, the following appears in recent Ryanair contracts:

Ryanair are planning to open a number of new European Bases in the near future and it should be clearly understood that you may be required to transfer to that base and that this transfer will be without compensation.

You will be based initially at XXXX Airport; however the company has the right to transfer you, without compensation, to any of its base stations including a new European Base. It must be understood that should you be transferred to another base you will be paid in accordance with the prevailing salary and flight pay system at that base.

It is reported that some pilots have been permanently moved from base to base with remarkably little notice. It will be noted that this will be "without compensation" (and means that the pilot will find and pay for all hotel accommodation). In addition, the reference to being paid “in accordance with prevailing pay at that base" correctly suggests that a new contract will have to be signed, normally with reduced Terms and Conditions of employment. That contract might not be made available until after the move has been completed and will then be offered on a “take it or leave it” basis.

Ryanair Employee Representative Committees (ERCs)

In its various communications Ryanair places great emphasis on the role played by their “ERCs”. The airline claims that these entities are the primary means by which they engage in discussions and negotiations with their employees. However, most observers and Ryanair pilots view ERCs as tools of management. They certainly do not appear to be independent of management, nor do they appear to be run in accordance with the limited rules established by Ryanair for their functioning. For example, it is believed (in September 2005) that none of the Ryanair ERCs have representatives have been democratically elected. In practice most ERC pilot “representatives” are appointed and some even deny that they are members of the ERC when questioned by the very pilots Ryanair claim they represent.

In a judgment, issued in January 2005, the Labour Court in Dublin ruled that ERCs are not independent negotiating entities. The following is an extract from the published findings of the Labour Court:

“Having considered all of the information placed before it, the Court is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that whilst Ryanair communicates and consults with employees, including Pilots in relation to their pay and conditions of employment, it is not its practice to engage in collective bargaining negotiations as the Court understands that expression. The Court has also found that there are no operative internal dispute resolution procedures.”

Put bluntly, few believe that ERCs do other than provide a minimum “fig-leave cover” to enable Ryanair to dictate terms and conditions to their employees. ERC’s thus allow Ryanair to “dress up” Terms and Conditions as having been “negotiated”. They do not provide a means by which individual grievances can be address, nor do they allow pilots to address anomalies such as the wide range of pilot terms and conditions applying to pilots doing exactly the same job, the absence of rules relating to promotion and movement from base to base, as well as a host of other important issues.

Pilot Recruitment, Terms & Conditions and the Market

Some Ryanair pilots have experiences that are different to those described above. A further complication is that, in practice, the conditions of employment and treatment of Ryanair pilots varies with changes in market conditions. For example, pilots recruited when the airline could not train them quickly enough found that there was no question of payment for type ratings and so forth. On the other hand, some of these pilots have also had experience of Ryanair behaviour when it feels itself to be in a position of strength – such as in early 2004 when a radical reduction in working conditions was announced to pilots by memo.

Changes in the pilot market in early 2005 suggest that Ryanair is increasingly willing to be flexible. However, that does not mean that all offers of employment are improving. In fact, it is clear that for some applicants the contracts on offer are not particularly good, while for others are much better. The poorer offers are sometimes reported to be a consequence of the previous employment history of the pilot concerned. There is also an indication that motivational packages for Ryanair pilot managers are based on a continuing reduction in pilot costs (including salaries) and, if this is so, the future does not look very settled.

It has been reported to REPA that the Terms and Conditions discussed at the interview stage are often much better than those on offer when the initial contract is provided for signature. Some, but by no means all, of those who have rejected the proposed contract have had improved offers. There appears to be no pattern to how these choices are made. Shortfalls in pilot supply are addressed by “contractor pilots”, some of whom earn substantial sums on such short term contracts.

Historically, the evidence suggests that Ryanair will wait for a slowdown in business before acting to recover concessions on Terms and Conditions granted previously. In times of pilot surplus there is a general trend for Ryanair salaries and conditions to move downwards. This may reflect the Ryanair believe that there is always somebody willing to pay to enter airline employment (the “first job” motivation) and to be promoted at pay rates well below the market norm (the “first command” motivation).

In general Ryanair appears to use a range of employment “lock-in mechanisms” for their more junior pilots, or high time F/Os joining in hope of an early command - whether this is achieved via debts for a type rating, or different types of bond (line training, command upgrade, etc).

At times of pilot shortage Ryanair can be slow or argumentative about providing “guaranteed” leave and some pilots have reported difficulty in obtaining their entitlements. The effect of this can be to end up in a position where, having flown 900 hours and being unable to work any more, the outstanding leave is then granted.

Other Perspectives on Ryanair

In a recent post on PPRuNe an apologist for Ryanair said the following about the company
"Cause grief - and we'll do everything we can to make life so unbearable, you'll leave...". The tone of this post suggests that the author was proud of this state of affairs. The basic messages seem to be “If you are one of us, don’t worry” but “If you are not one of us, don’t bother applying”.

Readers can use the following links to build up a picture of the Ryanair corporate style. That style could be summed up as follows: “We aggressively deliver low fares to the vast majority of our customers and we are unapologetic about either the methods we use or any “casualties” that might occur en route. We don’t do apologies nor do we concede to error. If you don’t like this don’t travel, or work, with us.”

Ryan-be fair – http://www.ryan-be-fair.org/
Ryan campaign - http://www.ryanair.org.uk/
PPRuNe - http://www.pprune.org/

Additional information can be found on the REPA site: http://www.repaweb.org

Ryanair and the Courts / Politicians

From time to time Ryanair has found itself in dispute with many people, whether customers, staff, suppliers or politicians. Many of those who have been involved in such disputes have not been happy with their treatment. For example in the Irish Times the Irish Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahearn, was quoted as stating that Michael O’Leary “would be up for bullying” if he was “still in the education stream”. The Taoiseach is further quoted as saying that “… there is one person he won’t bully, and that’s me”.

In the famous court case involving the one millionth Ryanair passenger (who was the plaintive referred to in the following quotation) the judge had this to say in his judgment:

“I found the plaintive a more persuasive witness than Mr. O’Leary and I therefore find as a fact that the version of events given by the plaintive is correct. … I reject Mr. O’Leary’s assertion that he was not hostile or aggressive or bullying toward the plaintiff. I find that he was.”

(Note: the plaintiff won her case and was awarded costs).

Surveys of Ryanair pilots - Findings

In recent years several surveys have been conducted by IALPA, BALPA and also on the REPA website itself. In summary, the difficult and sometimes unpleasant employment climate in Ryanair has been repeatedly identified in these surveys. The belief that Ryanair will strongly resist any effort to organise pilots is widespread, as is the desire of survey respondents to achieve an effective collective representation. However, many pilots fear being associated with the effort to organise.

The words “bullying” and “intimidation” have been used frequently in survey responses, pilot interviews and in other feedback from Ryanair pilots.

Note: it should not, however, be inferred that intimidation is seen by all pilots to be the same at all bases, or to be a permanent fixture. There are pilots who have had no such experiences, but those employed for longer periods are more likely to believe that it is “a problem”. It is also clear, for example, that bases with a strong “Base Captain” can be harmonious workplaces (at least until particular actions are imposed from outside).

REPA Survey on Pilot Priorities

In a survey conducted on the REPA site shortly after its inception REPA members were asked to rank, in order of importance, those items which they felt were most important for all Ryanair pilots to address. Responses to three particular questions (out of 11) received two thirds of the total votes and the replies identified the following as the most important issues facing Ryanair pilots:

1. A representative body, chosen by Ryanair pilots themselves.
2. Common Contracts of Employment.
3. A Seniority List.
4. Arrangements for Pilot Pensions


(1) the full survey used a “weighted” voting system;
(2) the inclusion of pilot pensions as item four above is based on combining responses to two questions on pension arrangements.

Only one of the 11 questions received no votes at all. This question asked if “a functioning ERC [ Employee Representative Committee ] at each Ryanair base” is desired by Ryanair pilots.

REPA Survey on Annual Leave

Another REPA survey addressed the issue of Annual Leave for Ryanair pilots. The following responses are among those reported at the time of writing.

1. To a question about how easy it is to obtain their Leave the responses were:

I have always been able to book all of my leave - 6% of pilots agreed
I have normally been able to book all of my leave - 16% of pilots agreed
I have had occasional difficulty in booking my leave - 24% of pilots agreed
I have regularly had difficulty in booking my leave - 55% of pilots agreed

2. The following are responses to other questions regarding Leave:

I believe that the Ryanair system for allocating leave is unfair -14% of pilots agreed
I have been unable to obtain leave even after reaching 800-900 hours flight time in a year – no pilots agreed
I have had difficulty in my dealings with Ryanair personnel in respect of obtaining leave (inflexible, uninterested, unhelpful, aggressive, offensive, uncaring, etc.) - 70% of pilots agreed
None of the above accurately describes my experience of Ryanair - 17% of pilots agreed

This survey cannot be considered to have sufficient answers to be a completely reliable guide since the numbers voting (at the time of writing) was less than 10% of the Ryanair pilot population. That point having been made, the survey does confirm information frequently reported to REPA by Ryanair pilots.

Legal and other Actions by Pilots Against Ryanair

Pilots in Dublin, some of whom are amongst the longest serving pilots in the airline, approached the Irish Labour Court in November 2004 with a view to resolving a number of issues relating to their employment that had given rise to concern.

In October 2005 IALPA has a large number of claims and legal actions outstanding. Some of these involve claims of workplace victimisation which followed the initial approach to the Labour Court. Among these cases are the following:

1. A claim before the Labour Court regarding Terms and Conditions of employment.
2. Approximately 250 “victimisation in the workplace” claims lodged or due to the lodged with the Labour Relations Commission.
3. An outstanding High Court Writ against Ryanair signed by approximately 60 pilots.

The fact that these matters cannot be resolved in dialogue with Ryanair, which has exercised their Constitutional right to utilise all possible legal avenues to challenge each stage of the proceedings, ensures that rapid progress cannot be achieved. At the time of writing (October 2005) IALPA has successfully won a significant engagement in the Irish Labour Court as well as two High Court cases.

Similarly, individual pilots who have taken legal action against Ryanair have invariably been successful. However, it must be stated that such success requires determination and a willingness to absorb the stresses and pressures associated with escalating legal costs, time delays, and so forth.

In Summary – Employment by Ryanair as a pilot

Good points: prospect of early promotion for F/O’s, hard work, quick accrual of experience/hours, good pay, generally stable rosters, no night stops, leave arrangements maximising the combined value of leave and days off, rapid career advancement possible when events move satisfactorily, etc. Apart from its administration, the general consensus is that pilot training in Ryanair is practical, effective and pilot oriented.

Bad points: widespread perception that “speaking up” is dangerous to one’s best interest, long working days, lack of any independent representation for pilot interests, arbitrary changes to working terms and conditions, deductions from pay (both monthly and at the end of employment), feeling that to stand up for contractual entitlements is to run unacceptable risks (with consequences such as being moved to an undesired base, difficulties in obtaining leave entitlements, or risking future advancement). In addition, none of the essential elements for making a career are in place, notably pensions and other benefits.
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 07:57
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Part 3:

A: Warning signs:

Being unable to see a copy of your contract – or find out your exact terms and conditions of employment / promised base, etc. (in writing) - before starting training.

What puts you at most risk: being in debt, young, timid, unable to leave Ryanair for any reason.

B: Things to make you stop and think:

1. The contract you were sent differs from the verbal terms outlined to you at interview.
2. You are a low time pilot anxious for your first airline job.
3. You have existing debts due to your ab initio training.
4. You do not have a type rating and no period / date has been specified within which type rating and line training will be completed.
5. You are relying on second hand or verbal promises regarding your terms and conditions of employment with Ryanair.
6. Key dates, such as when you will be considered to have started employment, are not explicit in documentation (in Ryanair you might be working for them for a long period before they consider you to have commenced “permanent” employment. This has consequences for pay and promotion).
7. You are expected to contract to a third party training company for B737 training.
8. You are going to borrow money, based on expected earnings, to pay for the B737 training.
9. You have not been told, in writing, when your “Basic Pay” will start.
10. You have not been told, in writing, the actual sector pay that will apply to you and when it will become the full rate.
11. You do not have savings to cover unexpected delays – which could be several months - between the end of your simulator training and when you first get paid.
12. You have started your type training, line training or line operations while awaiting your final contract.
13. You have just discovered that the terms you expected are not the terms outlined in your contract, but feel committed to accept a position with Ryanair for some reason.
14. Your contract refers to a period on half sector pay for a period after you start line training. (As the due date has been referred to on several occasions by Ryanair as “a mistake”, it is important to check before you sign that the date/period involved is correct; the period on half sector pay is extended when this “mistake” happens).
15. You have asked existing pilots about a problem which has arisen since you commenced employment and they advised you not to complain about your situation.
16. You have calculated an expected annual salary based on figures supplied to you verbally regarding monthly income.
17. You have been told about things that are tempting, but not very clear as to how they work. For example, you have been told about very high value “share options” held by pilots and think these will automatically apply to you. You do not clarify the circumstances in which you lose any entitlement to such options.

In summary: You must ensure that you know what you are agreeing to. At a minimum you should ensure that Ryanair make your Terms and Conditions very clear, before you commence employment, before you incur any debts or you sign any interim documents (such as a contract with intermediate training organisations). That means obtaining a written copy of your terms and conditions of employment and being provided with an indication of how your date of entry and any automatic promotions/salary increases will be determined.

We strongly advise that you make and keep contemporaneous notes about any verbal undertakings from Ryanair representatives regarding your terms and conditions.

If a prospective employer cannot, or will not, supply such information in advance, then there is not a lot more to be said other than to point out that this suggests at least a degree of future risk.

captaink is offline  
Old 5th Mar 2006, 08:13
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Thank you ! This document is very close to a real life in RYR .
Haruki is offline  
Old 5th Mar 2006, 09:23
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The document I referred to above was obviously an earlier draft. What has been posted here is much updated. There really is not a lot to add, though there could be more on the "unpaid training gap" between recruitment and reaching the point of being paid (which is the new untold Ryanair scandal).

captaink, as a matter of interest was there a date / or draft / version number on what you posted above?
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 09:47
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all this sounds great!!

let me know where to apply, I would like an interview to see what they say.
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 09:56
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Instead of being

Last edited by captaink; 27th Oct 2006 at 21:34.
captaink is offline  
Old 5th Mar 2006, 09:59
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However ...... if it reads tomorrow's date tomorrow you will know that ...... the date field is updating itself automatically!
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 10:38
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 12:36
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A very informative document and a real eye-opener even to me. Just a shame it wasn't published before I joined.
RYR-738-JOCKEY is offline  
Old 5th Mar 2006, 17:39
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Some time, quite soon if there is a God in heaven, Mr O'leary and his appalling airline are going to run into serious trouble.
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 17:42
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Don't think so Wingswinger coz MOL is one hell of a man!
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 18:05
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Thumbs down

Yah, you are right - he IS hell.
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Old 5th Mar 2006, 19:13
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Why do people fly for Ryanair? It beggars belief that someone could think it's a good idea!
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