RYR – waiting for the other shoe to drop

Not gone unnoticed, Europe’s favourite airline announced last week Sept. 16th the cancellation of up to 50 flights per day until October 31th, affecting 315,000 passengers and its own wallet for up to €20m in compensation bill. Admittedly, this brilliant move was a last-ditch effort to comply with a 4-year-coming piece of regulation improve punctuality (!).

The distraction

Scrambling to mitigate the hurdle, Ryanair’s notorious COO Michael Hickey offered his pilots the following:

Whether any incentive is left to be found to this “bonus” remains to be proven: in essence, provisions are such that the grant is paid multiple times over with the extra labour required to unlock it! Also, let’s not forget to not leave the airline before November 2018…

The real deal

Two days prior (Sept. 14th), the EU Court of Justice published its judgement on the Home Base issue; Ryanair’s claim that the nationality of the aircraft should determine the jurisdiction and the applicable law. At long last, the argument “Irish plane, Irish worker” is no more:

  • The Court sets the presumption that the Home Base is the habitual place of work for air crews, and thereby the determinant for which national Court has jurisdiction.
  • It allows to challenge the presumption if the base is a bogus one.
  • It states that ‘jurisdiction clauses’ in contracts that limit the employee right to bring proceedings to a court that has jurisdiction under EU law are not enforceable.

Setting a precedent, this judgement will impact all other airlines and brokers with contractual set-ups that use jurisdiction clauses to limit the employees’ rights: from now on, they have clearly been ruled as not enforceable. With more than 70% of pilots flying as ‘Irish’ self-employed contractors, Ryanair might look at its multi-million-euro roster blunder with nostalgia by comparison.

CEO Mr O’Leary conveniently sold €72m worth Ryanair shares 2 months earlier.


  • Oct.5th: Mr O’Leary pleaded with his pilots to remain at Ryanair.
  • Oct.6th: Michael Hickey announced his resignation, effective at the end of this month.
  • Oct.11th: Ryanair Captain Imelda Comer stepped forward in a missive adressed to Mr. O’Leary and relayed to the members of the European Parliament for fair bargain.
  • Oct.18th: Flight operation manager Elaine Griffin appealed to former staff to return to the airline for improved incentives.
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