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Pilots’ union BALPA calls for Ryanair bosses to step down ahead of airline’s AGM

The British Airline Pilots’ Association, the recognised union for pilots employed by Ryanair in the UK, has made a statement on behalf of the pilots it represents urging the airline’s shareholders to replace CEO Michael O’Leary and Chairman David Bonderman.

The statement below comes ahead of Ryanair’s AGM today:

This statement is issued on behalf of pilots in Ryanair – a loyal group of workers who built the company to date and are essential to Ryanair’s ongoing success. As Ryanair’s shareholders gather to exercise their annual governance of the company they own, we feel compelled to raise an issue of paramount concern.

The relationship between Ryanair management and its pilots has become utterly dysfunctional, and this is now putting at risk the continued success of the company. Regardless of claims that union recognition is improving employee relations, we are concerned that the approach epitomised under Michael O’Leary’s leadership over more than 20 years is unchanged.

Management’s actions to date are often perceived by pilots as being frequently intimidating and antagonistic. It is also seen as generating operational disruption and industrial unrest rather than creating a positive and cohesive working environment for the future.

As professional pilots, critical to the future and fortunes of our airline, many have lost all confidence in Michael O’Leary and his ability to lead the company as CEO. This failure of leadership is compounded by an apparent lack of oversight from the Board, from its Chairman and from non-executive directors, which has allowed the current negative situation and ongoing uncertainty to grow.

Accordingly, as stakeholders in Ryanair, with shared interest in the health and success of the company, Ryanair’s pilots urge shareholders to immediately replace the CEO Michael O’Leary and Chairman David Bonderman at the annual general meeting.

Ryanair needs competent leaders who are focused on a clear and different future rather than on pursuing a failed employment model that resulted in the collapse of our operations in September 2017.  While pilots support the successful business model of Ryanair, there is no doubt that the current employment model has fundamentally failed.

There is an urgent need for a management team that is able to adapt to the future needs of the company, properly engage with its employees, and ensure it can be a sustainable and profitable business for the future. If this opportunity is missed, it is difficult to envisage how Ryanair can move forward under the out-of-date management style employed to date, and we are greatly concerned that both the employees and the shareholders of Ryanair will pay an unnecessary price for such failure for many years to come.

BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said:

“The industrial unrest in Ryanair across Europe and among pilots and cabin crew is, in my opinion, likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The reason is as follows; there is a lot of pent up frustration in Ryanair over a management style that has been seen as bullying and aggressive. The staff want that to end and they want respect.

“Ryanair’s announcement last December that they would recognise unions should have been the opportunity to make a break from the past but the trust in management isn’t there to support the words. For many pilots and cabin crew it seems to me that they do not believe in the intentions of Ryanair’s leaders and unfortunately Mr O’Leary is usually cited as the cause of this. I think that while he is still there as the embodiment of Ryanair’s values the distrust among many staff is likely to continue and with it the industrial unrest.”