Ryanair Is So Desperate to Keep Its Pilots It’s Promising Their ‘Days Off Will Really Mean Days Off’

Ryanair is begging its pilots to stay with the budget airline despite recent turmoil that has caused the cancellation of thousands of flights.

According to a letter sent to pilots by CEO Michael O’Leary—and reported separately by TheJournal.ie and Reuters—the Ireland-based carrier is offering pilots significant pay increases and improvements to working conditions, and promising to beat any offers they may have received from rivals Jet2 and Norwegian Air.

Although Ryanair put its cancellation of 18,000 flights down to errors it made in coordinating pilots’ holidays, some have suggested it is simply running short of staff, due to rivals poaching them. Norwegian says it has nabbed 140 Ryanair pilots over the last year alone.

O’Leary reportedly told captains at four of its key bases that they would get €10,000 ($11,711) more per year, and first officers €5,000 more, if they stay with Ryanair. He also promised a “productivity/loyalty bonus” of up to €12,000 if they hang around for at least a year.

In a move that appears to mirror pilots’ stated demands, he promised changes to the scheduling system so “your days off will really mean days off.” He also promised better career progression within the company.

“I treat you with the respect you are due as senior professionals in Ryanair, and I equally expect each of you to ensure that Ryanair is treated with the respect you are entitled to,” O’Leary wrote.

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