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Reportage. CEO announces that “hell will freeze over” before Ryanair employees are allowed to unionize.

O’Leary apologizes but doubles down against trade unions

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says he is “wearing a sagum” to apologize to his customers, but he continues to beat his employees with his stick: He promises “hell will freeze over” before he allows Ryanair to become unionized.

On Thursday, O’Leary had to face a challenging test: Ryanair’s shareholders’ meeting. He came out even stronger, with an increase in his popularity.

He acknowledged the “serious reputation and brand damage” caused by the 2,100 canceled flights that have created and will create problems for 300,000 passengers across Europe. The estimate cost of the damage is €25 million. But the inventor of the low cost model continues unabated on his way. He did not answer to the questions from journalists and continues to argue that there is no issue with the pilots.

“The confusion is due to the poor planning of vacation time,” he said. “We have 2,500 pilots on the waiting list, ready to come work with us.” He even threatened to cut vacations by one week. Then he announced: “We have already managed over 95 percent of the 315,000 flight or refund requests received from the affected customers.”

On the Italian front, on Thursday Ryanair had been summoned by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority. The body, led by the indestructible Vito Riggio — he has been chairman or commissioner since 2003 — seems to have purposefully chosen the same day of the shareholders’ meeting to receive the reply: “We cannot attend.”

Everything was postponed to early October, despite the almost comical attempt to discuss the issue on a teleconference.

After a petition presented by the Codacons (the Italian Co-ordination of Environmental Protection Associations and User and Consumer Rights), the prosecutor’s office in Bergamo opened an inquiry into the cancellation of flights by the airline.

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