Irish no-frills airline Ryanair said Tuesday it cut more than 200 jobs in Spain as it closed three bases in the Canary Islands.
The number of job losses is far less than the 512 posts that unions had feared would be lost, however.
“There were over 200 dismissals in the Canaries, that was just pilots and cabin crew, no other staff,” the airline’s human resource director, Darrell Hugues, told a Madrid news conference.
Ryanair said in August that it would close bases in Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, as well as one in Girona in mainland Spain, leading Spanish union USO to predict that 512 jobs could be lost. In the end, Ryanair kept the base in Girona open.
The company justified the need to reduce its presence on the ground by delays in the delivery of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX, which it says has left it with more pilots and crew than necessary.
“We don’t have enough aeroplanes so we’re closing bases,” Hugues explained.
After the three Canary Islands sites closed last week, Ryanair moved some pilots and cabin crew who were based there elsewhere in Europe, he added without giving further details.
The company did not close its base in Girona after employees there signed new contracts making them seasonal workers, confirming information given by the USOC union last month, Hugues said.
Under the new contract, the employees are contracted to work nine months of the year instead of 12, which means their annual salaries would be reduced by around 25 per cent according to the union.
About 100 employees at Ryanair’s base in Girona accepted the new conditions, while those who refused were fired, Hugues said.
Ryanair expects to get up to 10 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in March-April, the airline’s marketing director, Kenny Jacobs, said.
But it has no plans “at the moment” to reopen the Canary Islands bases once that happens, he added.
On Friday, Ryanair raised its annual profit forecast for its current financial year that ends in March, citing strong bookings and a better than expected Christmas/New Year travel period.
Published The Local 14 January 2020