It may already have been a summer of misery for some flying Ryanair, but the autumn and winter is also potentially looking bleak

Despite Ryanair just being kept off the top spot of the delay chart in Spain this summer, beaten only by Vueling, disruption caused by industrial action looks set to continue, as an apparent internal war is declared between the company and unions.

In what experts see as a direct impact on losses resulting from the action this summer, Ryanair are looking to close bases and reduce their fleet. According to the Aviation Tribune, this is perceived in some quarters as a punishment for the lawful industrial actions by pilots and cabin crew, and subsequently seen as a “declaration of war” to the crew across the whole network.

The message originated from the Presidents of European pilot unions and associations, who met last week in Vienna. Seen as an aggressive move by Ryanair management, it has come at a time when relationships are already stretched beyond breaking point, with stalling negotiations in numerous countries.

“Such hostility by management will not be tolerated by pilots and cabin crew,” says ECA President Dirk Polloczek. “Pilot associations demand the immediate withdrawal of the base closures in Eindhoven and Bremen and downsizing of the Niederrhein base. We call on Ryanair management and its Board of Directors to change its confrontational and counterproductive approach. It is hard to see how Ryanair can realistically expect to reach agreements with its unions with such threats hanging in the air.”

“Taking actions which force pilots and cabin crew to relocate or lose their job and income is definitely not what we need to build trust and a solid basis for constructive negotiations,” says Martin Locher, President of Vereinigung Cockpit (VC). “If Ryanair is serious about reaching agreements by Christmas, such behaviour is very unhelpful. The announced base closure date of 5th November will be a milestone to test management’s real intentions and its willingness to actually do something for its employees, be it in Germany, be it elsewhere.”

“Closing down a base and moving your employees to a different country is not compatible with social dialogue. We see it as a declaration of war, and totally contrary to all claims to be willing to negotiate,” says Arthur van den Hudding, President of the Dutch pilots’ association VNV. “If Ryanair management thinks that closing bases is a quick and cheap fix for the employee unrest, and the legal court cases against it here in the Netherlands, they would appear to be naïve at best and antagonistic at worst. Instilling fear among Ryanair workers and to de facto restrict their right to strike will never be tolerated by us. We call on Ryanair to maintain their base in the Netherlands, to face their responsibilities, and to come back to the negotiating table, rather than running away and punishing everybody left behind.”