Ryanair has agreed to recognize pilot unions ahead of a strike threat by a number of its pilots just ahead of the busy Christmas travel weekend.
The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA), a branch of the IMPACT trade union, served the airline’s management with notice of a one-day strike on December 20, the Wednesday before Christmas weekend, over the airline’s refusal to enter direct negotiations with the European Employee Representative Council (EERC) or IALPA as the sole independent representative body for pilots working in the company.
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.” It has also called on the unions to call off the December 20 strike.
“Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week,” Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a written statement. “If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognized union process, then we are prepared to do so, and we have written today to these unions inviting them to talks to recognize them and calling on them to cancel the threatened industrial action planned for Christmas week.”
O’Leary noted that the move would mark a significant change for the airline.
The IMPACT trade union responded that “an immediate meeting, between management and the union, is now necessary to clarify issues and make progress.” In a statement IMPACT said it is available to meet with management today or anytime over the weekend.
A strike on December 20 would hit Ryanair during a record-setting holiday travel period. AAA reports that December 20 and 21 will be the busiest days for holiday travel this year, as 107.3 million Americans are set to take a holiday trip, up 3.1 percent over last year and the ninth consecutive year of holiday travel growth. Of those, 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth consecutive year of holiday air travel growth.
Similarly, airline trade association Airlines for America (A4A) reports that 51 million passengers will fly globally, up 3.5 percent over last year.