Budget carrier RyanAir has announced that the 20% increase in salaries it's negotiating with its pilots will push its costs €100m higher next year.
Speaking in Madrid on Tuesday, Michael O'Leary has assured that although their costs may increase, the price of flights will remain the same and Ryanair will continue to be the cheapest airline. “We won't increase the prices, or our profits decrease or our costs will decrease, we still don't know.”
Although Ryanair had already reached an agreement with Balpa, the pilots union in the UK, in countries like Spain the labour disputes were still ongoing.
Spanish union Sepla was planning legal action against Ryanair for having their pilots on an Irish contract, also claiming that many of them were working as “self-employed”.
At Tuesday's press conference, Michael O'Leary explained that only 50% of the workforce was on such a contract and often by choice. The company had also extended the 20% salary increase to cover those pilots but Sepla was preventing it from being voted on, despite it not being a process requiring union recognition.
“What Ryanair should see is that the workers are refusing the salary rise so that half of their colleagues become staff” Sepla said. That, the union argued, was more important for labour rights and safety than any salary increase.
In parallel, the Irish carrier said it had slashed the price of flights to Catalonia by 30% in order to fill up flights. The unstable political situation in Catalonia and the summer terrorist attack threatened to reduce the number of tourists visiting the region.
Michael O'Leary explained that the airline didn't wait for demand to decrease and with their price reduction they have managed to keep flights packed.
Ryanair also announced 29 new routes in Spain, with O'Leary explaining how that highlighted the Mediterranean country's importance to the outfit.