Ryanair to recruit 125 new pilots in the 'next week or two'

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/ryanair-to-recruit-125-new-pilots-in-the-next-week-or-two-11046115">Ryanair to recruit 125 new pilots in the 'next week or two'</a>
 

Ryanair's boss Michael O'Leary is rushing to recruit 125 new pilots within "the next week or two" to avert the prospect of a new wave of cancelled flights.

The announcement was made just hours after a letter was sent to the company by a group of its existing pilots, rejecting an offer of a tax-free £12,000 bonus in exchange for working overtime.

The airline has come under increasing pressure over the past week after it revealed that an issue with staff leave meant thousands of flights would have to be cancelled.

A total of 315,000 passengers have been affected by the blunder, which has resulted in 2% of Ryanair services up to the end of October being axed.

The company's colourful chief executive Michael O'Leary announced the recruitment drive at Ryanair's AGM in Dublin where he faced questions from anxious investors about industrial relations.

Ryanair had previously dismissed reports that the loss of 140 of its pilots to a Norwegian rival this year had played a role in the cancellations.

The airline offered its existing pilots a tax-free bonus of €12,000 in exchange for agreeing to work extra days, in order to avoid having to cancel even more flights.

But one group, made up of employee councils from 14 Ryanair bases across Europe, sent a letter to the firm refusing the offer.

:: Full list of Ryanair's cancelled flights

Employee councils liaise with Ryanair on behalf of pilots and staff, as the company refuses recognise unions.

The bonus was apparently contingent on pilots having logged at least 800 flight hours over the course of the previous year, but the letter claims few pilots will meet this threshold.

The pilots also say the details around the offer are too vague, particularly with regards to the number of days off pilots who accept the bonus would have to give up in order to qualify for it.

They urge Ryanair to engage with them in order to agree better working conditions, and say they will only be fulfilling the terms of their contract - and will work no overtime - until improved contract terms are in place.

Mr O'Leary has admitted pilots may have been paid a "little on the low side" and has offered some a €10,000 pay rise on top of the bonus but said he would not give in to any form of industrial action, if it materialised and threatened the provision of services.

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