On Friday June 24th, Ryanair reported that fewer than 2% of its 3,000 flights have been affected by strikes. At the same time, some of its cabin crew members took strike action in Belgium, Spain and Portugal in a dispute over pay and working conditions.
Ryanair said that the affected flights were mainly “confined to minor disruptions in Belgium”, where 60% of its scheduled flights to and from Charleroi and Zaventem were operating. The airline confirmed on Friday that there were no flight disruptions in the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France or Ireland, as the “vast majority” of Ryanair crews are working as usual.
According to Simple Flying, Ryanair not only tried to keep its staff during the pandemic, but started hiring and training employees since last year. Keeping the operation, at least to the minimal, was key to the airline’s current healthy operation, according to O’Leary.
Even if we had flights with no passengers, we sent up pilots and cabin crew. We sent everybody flying at least once a month.Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Group CEO
If pilots don’t fly at least once a month, they risk losing their license. They must then train at a flight simulator for three months before they get their license back. An eight-week training course is required for any cabin crew member whose flying hours have not been maintained.
In 2022, the spike in travel demand has triggered a global industry-wide challenge, as flight and cabin crew shortages have led to several carriers cutting their summer flight schedules. With several strikes happening across Europe, Ryanair’s leadership remains confident the disruption will be minimal.
On Friday, the airline announced there would disruptions over the weekend in France, Italy and Spain due to a two-day strike in the French Air Traffic Control centre in Marseille, which would impact flights crossing the French airspace.
Ryanair’s CEO has dismissed the idea that there were issues related to the salaries of the company’s staff. He has stated that every Ryanair employee is paid above the minimum wage, and that everyone is a condition to pay for their living. O’Leary remains firm about any potential negotiation and believes that any disruption caused by the strikes will only affect less than 1% of Ryanair’s European operations.
In the current environment of high inflation and uncertainty linked to the war in Ukraine, O’Leary believes more than ever that the low-cost model will continue to be as successful as ever. ”We’ve never been recession-proof, but generally, people trade down to the lowest-cost provider in recessions,” he said. “If you look at the companies that do better in a recession, it is the Lidls, Aldis, and Ikeas, and we are the Lidl, Aldi, and Ikea of the travel industry. We have lower costs and lower fares than any other airline, and we will do spectacularly well in a recession.”