Irish LCC Ryanair has signed an agreement with the Portuguese pilot union SPAC covering seniority and base transfer agreements for its directly employed pilots in Portugal, and paving the way for negotiations on a full collective labor agreement to begin before the end of October. 

The LCC has been making slow progress in getting agreements in place with unions which it agreed to recognize in December 2017, after a flight cancellations crisis forced its hand by bringing long-running tensions with its workforce to the fore. 

The Dublin-based carrier said on Oct. 19 that it signed similar agreements with British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and Italian pilots union ANPAC covering all of Ryanair’s directly employed UK and Italian pilots and added that following negotiations in Madrid this week it expects to sign a recognition agreement with Spanish pilot union SEPLA shortly.

Chief people officer Eddie Wilson said: “These signed agreements with our pilot unions in Portugal, the UK, Italy and shortly in Spain, demonstrate the considerable progress we’re making in concluding union agreements with our people in our major European Union markets.”

However,  BALPA said it had not yet signed a formal agreement with Ryanair on seniority and base transfers because the draft agreement now needs to be put to a vote by members. 

BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said: “We signed a draft agreement to go to consultation. Ryanair knows that and therefore should not have said it was an agreement that covers UK pilots.”

Ryanair later added that the agreement was signed by the Ryanair BALPA pilots’ council.

Ryanair’s Wilson added: “The recent wave of airline failures in Europe, including Nordic LCC Primera Air, Cypriot carrier Cobalt Air … and Small Planet (Germany), as well as base closures/cuts announced by many of Europe’s major airlines in response to higher oil prices and lower air fares, have given a significant stimulus to these union negotiations over recent weeks.”

Helen Massy-Beresford, helen.massy-beresford@aviationweek.co.uk