Ryanair announces plan to cut hundreds of jobs

Europe's biggest budget airline has seen lower profits than anticipated, and CEO Michael O'Leary has told its employees to expect layoffs

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: A Ryanair flight takes off at Stansted Airport on June 3, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
(Image credit: GETTY IMAGES)

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary warned the company’s staff in a video message that 900 of them were not needed, and that job losses will be announced over the coming weeks.

500 pilots and 400 cabin crew are deemed surplus to requirements by the airline and O’Leary went further, saying that because of the worldwide grounding of Boeing’s Max aircraft, by this time next year, 600 fewer employees would be needed than previously expected.

According to the Guardian “Ryanair employs a total of about 17,000 people, of whom 5,500 are pilots. The airline employs more than 9,000 cabin crew and has a further 1,130 ground operations and maintenance staff, with the remainder in administrative, IT and management roles.”

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The main reason for the cuts, O’Leary said, was that profits have dropped 41% in the first quarter over the last two years.

He cited three main reasons for the drop in profits: Brexit - which, particularly in the UK, has dampened demand; rising oil prices - Ryanair’s oil bill this year rose by over €450 million; and increased staff wages.

The Independent points out that the announcement comes “one year on from the pilot shortage that dogged Ryanair all autumn and winter.”

Indeed, “Ryanair pilots in Britain and Ireland are holding a ballot over potential industrial action and some union officials, who declined to be identified, said O’Leary was trying to deter them from voting to strike,” Reuters reports. “They said a hiring agency that worked with Ryanair was still advertising for flight staff and earlier this month the airline had launched a new pilot training program in central Europe.”

O’Leary also blamed the “increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit in just 12 weeks' time”, and said the first round of staff layoffs could be expected in September and October, with a second following soon after Christmas.

Ryanair is also suffering from the worldwide grounding of all Boeing 737 Max airplanes, after two crashes killed 346 people.

The company, which is the largest budget airline in Europe, ordered 58 Boeing Max planes, but after the grounding expects to have 30 by next summer. “It may well move to 20, it could move to 10, and it could well move to zero if Boeing don't get their sh*t together pretty quickly with the regulator,” Mr O’Leary said.

“Ryanair has already slashed flights and said it may need to close bases as a result of the ongoing crisis,” reports The Daily Telegraph. “It cut its growth for summer 2020 from 7% to 3%, meaning it would carry 5 million fewer passengers in the year to March 2021.”

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