You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots

Staff memo warns that signing letter airing safety fears would be ‘gross misconduct’

Ryanair pilots have been warned not to sign a letter to airline regulators expressing concern that the airline’s employment practices could jeopardise passenger safety.

In a memo staff were told they would be guilty of “gross misconduct” and “liable for dismissal” if they signed the letter to the Irish Aviation Authority that regulates Ryanair. The letter was drawn up by the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG), which represents captains and co-pilots working for the airline but is not recognised by the company.

It warned that the “confusing, uncertain and unpredictable employment situation” at Ryanair was becoming “an increasing distraction in daily flight operations”. It added that it was causing “stress and worry” for pilots and had implications for safety.

Ryanair responded to the letter by warning that any pilot who signed it could be dismissed. “If the Ryanair Pilot Group want to make inaccurate or false claims about non-safety issues they are free to do so, but we will not allow Ryanair’s safety to be defamed by this pilots’ union,” the airline’s chief pilot Ray Conway wrote.

“Please note that any Ryanair pilot who participates in this so-called safety petition will be guilty of gross misconduct and will be liable for dismissal.”

The RPG organised the letter amid concerns that the airline was making the majority of its pilots self-employed. Under the scheme, pilots sign a contract binding them to fly exclusively for Ryanair – but not as employees.

The pilots are then paid for the work they do but have to pay for all their own expenses, including uniforms, identity cards, transport and hotel accommodation. The contracted pilots have no pension scheme or medical insurance unless they set it up themselves.

One Ryanair pilot said that the company was protected because they could claim that pilots had a legal and moral obligation not to fly if they do not think they are capable. But they added: “People are human and if you’re not going to be paid [if you don’t fly] you might think ‘I can do this, I’m fine. I’ll just get on with it’. You should not have a safety culture based on fear.”

David Learmount, operations and safety editor of Flight International magazine and an expert on aviation, said:“Ryanair are pushing their luck on human factors when they employ pilots like a warlord employs mercenaries. There is the worry that if they are self-employed that might place additional pressures on them to work even if, for any number of reasons, they might not feel entirely fit to do so.”

The RPG has now written to the Irish Aviation Authority, which regulates Ryanair, to express its concerns over the memo. “[We are] extremely concerned by some of the rhetoric used in this memo and also by the implicit attempt to constrain the reporting of safety related concerns,” they said in a letter to Kevin Humphreys, Director of Safety Regulation.

“Voicing concerns about safety and petitioning any government agency about those concerns is legal, necessary and in line with every pilot’s legal obligations to report those kinds of concerns when they arise.”

The Independent revealed the poor conditions faced by Ryanair’s cabin crew, who are made to take three months unpaid leave a year, not paid to be on call, and have to pay £360 for their uniform.

In response to the latest allegations, a Ryanair spokesman said: “We do not comment on anonymous, unsigned letters from internet trolls funded by the European Cockpit Association.” He added it was “rubbish” that contract pilots might feel under pressure to work even if they were ill.

“Contract pilots regularly report in sick when they feel they are not fit to fly and we maintain a daily roster for standby pilots for precisely this reason,” he said. “This false claim was previously investigated and dismissed by the Irish Aviation Authority.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there