Editorial: Ryanair - budget airline, budget staffing

Cutthroat practices can be seen as deplorable or a paragon of modern enterprise


Given Ryanair’s bargain-basement tickets, it was to be expected that, behind the scenes, the airline was squeezing every pip until it squeaked. Even all the extra charges – on luggage check-in, seat reservation and so on – could not be enough to support, say, a flight to Venice for £30, could they? Sure enough, between the insights from a former cabin-staff member, revealed in The Independent yesterday, and the pilots’ concerns that we report today, it is clear that the company’s no-frills model is not limited to its products.

Sophie Growcoot’s account of her time as a contractor for Ryanair, although disputed by the airline, makes painful reading. An hourly rate of £13.07 may not appear too miserly. But cabin crews are paid only while the plane is aloft. There is no money for time on the ground and staff must also stump up for training and uniforms. Factor in three months of (unpaid) winter holiday, and one day in five spent on call (also potentially unpaid), and that £13.07 is stretched thin indeed. Nor are cabin crews the only ones allegedly under pressure. Pilots are also employed as contactors only, cutting costs but upping stress levels, says the unofficial union, Ryanair Pilot Group.

For some, such arrangements are simply more evidence that the airline is deplorably cut throat. For others, it remains a paragon of enterprise that has opened up air travel to the masses. Either way, there is no suggestion that either the airline or Crewlink, Ms Growcoot’s agency, has broken any laws. More than anything, then, these revelations shed light on the reality of our employment laws.

Economic torpor has given the political right’s totemic war on red tape a new urgency. From Lord Young to Adrian Beecroft, there has been no shortage of high-profile government advisers calling for a cull of staffing rules. Meanwhile, Eurosceptics all too often give similar gripes a Brussels-blaming twist. The details from inside Ryanair must, surely, lay such simplicities to rest.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam