Dear pilot colleagues,
My name is Imelda Comer. I am a Captain based in Dublin and I have worked for Ryanair for more than ten years. Like most of you, I have not seen anything like the level of pilot anger, frustration and disappointment arising from the way the company management has treated us in the recent past. This has resulted in an unprecedented level of unity throughout the pilot body, and a spontaneous desire to become an organised group and to respond to the company with a unified voice.
Attached to this note is a copy of a letter to Michael O’Leary which I hand delivered to the company head office today (11th October). I believe the letter accurately represents the pilots’ views at this moment.
I have reluctantly decided to make myself known to the company and the pilot body as a conduit to progress. The interim EERC has already sent a proposal to you the pilot body, showing their understanding of what you originally asked for. The interim EERC included an outline strategy to achieve our long term aims. I ask you to review those earlier messages again. They are important for our future in Ryanair and beyond.
Every pilot in Ryanair may have struggled, as I have over the last four weeks, to make some sense of the rapidly changing situation in which we find ourselves. Our representation system is broken. That works very well for the company, as they insist on dealing with individual pilots, individual ERCs, and individual bases. There is no strength for pilots in that arrangement. There is great strength for the company, which is why they impose it on us. The Ryanair ERC system is unreasonable. The EERC has tried to reflect our collective voice, and to articulate a fair and balanced representation system.
In the last two days we have seen management roll out the same age-old tactics again, making offers to bases that no one has asked for. Money deals are offered with multiple conditions attached, but that ultimately have no legal standing anywhere. There are no assurances that they cannot or will not be withdrawn by the company at some future date. Like many of you, I am here long enough to have seen all of these things happen before. We know that each time they happen, pilots’ conditions get worse, the company profits get better, and more pilots leave. The pilots leaving will be treated with respect and better conditions in other companies.
Base deals are being imposed on us, with the usual explicit or implicit threats of what will happen if we don’t accept the latest offer. But they are NOT negotiated by anyone. Pilots have not been able to check them for compliance with local employment, tax or social insurance laws. Over time, these confusing and poorly written documents will mean what the company decides they mean. We have seen all of this before.
Company management got us into this mess. They cannot solve these problems without us. To move our own representation in a new direction, we have to stop the company’s usual rush to divide and conquer us. Only the pilots acting together can do that. An airline is not an airline without its pilots.
When the company offers nothing except money, they try to break our will to negotiate collectively. They invest enormous effort in trying to divide us. Why? Because they know we are stronger together.
I ask you to trust in our interim EERC colleagues. When we have a voting system established we can directly elect our national, regional and EERC representatives as the pilots require. I ask you to support the interim EERC. Give them a chance to achieve real change. Give them a strong mandate to begin discussions with the company on our behalf. Empower them to seek professional advice and guidance from the pilot associations that so many of you have and continue to join. Support them as they work on our behalf to create the democratic system that we require and deserve. The interim EERC will not make any decisions for the pilot body. For the first time, pilots in Ryanair can have a representation system that consults us, represents us, and enables us to make informed choices.
When the EERC can provide pilots with proposals that are properly checked and reviewed with legal, financial, tax and social insurance experts, then there is a credible and serious choice for pilots to make. Then we will need our own voting system that is secure yet transparent and run by pilots, to hear the proper voice of the pilots, freely expressed.
I am leaving Ryanair in the near future. I am sure the company will try to make a big issue out of that. But I haven’t left yet. While I am here, I am prepared to serve you, to develop a fair representation system that will serve our collective interests. As competitor airlines have shown, when treated properly, we will also serve the best interests of the company. It’s just a pity that management don’t seem to be able to see that.
I am not happy with the way pilots in Ryanair have been or are being treated. As I leave a company I was once proud to be in, doing work I adore, I would like to contribute in any way I can to our collective efforts to secure a better future for pilots in Ryanair. That is not bitterness, it is optimism. The optimism comes from seeing pilots at every level providing leadership and eventually taking control of our own representation.
If you have any comments or suggestions to make I will be happy to receive them at
Captain Imelda Comer Dublin