Ryanair forced to admit defeat and recognise unions after Dublin pilots vote to strike before Christmas
Despite the budget airline previously firmly stating it would not engage with unions, the company has had to do a complete U-turn due to the disruption the planned strike would cause to its network if it goes ahead on Wednesday 20th December - at the peak of the busy festive season.
The disagreement arose initially after Ryanair refused to recognise the Irish Airline Pilot's Association (IALPA) as a union - something the airline does have a legal right to do.
A previous statement from the airline
declared that: "Ryanair will not recognise an Aer Lingus pilot union, no matter how often or how long this tiny minority (earning between €150,000 to €190,000 p.a.) try to disrupt our flights or our customers plans during Christmas week."
This came after members of the IALPA voted in favour of industrial action - which included some of Ryanair's Dublin-based pilots, many of whom are captains without home planes can't be flown.
(Although it is worth noting that IALPA doesn't represent all of Ryanair's pilots, just the ones who are directly employed by the airline - Ryanair also employs plenty of pilots through third parties).
But now, the company has changed its tune, saying it's so their customers won't have to worry about flight disruptions over Christmas.
"Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week," said Michael O'Leary in a statement.
"If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so, and we have written today to these unions inviting them to talks to recognise them and calling on them to cancel the threatened industrial action planned for Christmas week.
"Recognising unions will be a significant change for Ryanair, but we have delivered radical change before, most recently when we launched Ryanair Labs and our highly successful Always Getting Better customer improvement programme in 2013.
"Putting the needs of our customers first, and avoiding disruption to their Christmas flights, is the reason why we will now deal with our pilots through recognised national union structures and we hope and expect that these structures can and will be agreed with our pilots early in the New Year."
The airline has now written to IALPA recognising them as a union and offering to enter into talks, as well as calling for confirmation that the planned strike will not go ahead.
It's a major win for Ryanair pilots around the world too, as the airline has agreed to recognise other unions in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal - provided these set up Committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues, as the company won't engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines.