Ryanair is planning to shed up to 3,000 jobs because of the “unprecedented” coronavirus crisis that has seen the global grounding of flights.
The budget airline also highlighted the impact of the state bailout of other carriers, including Lufthansa and Air France, which chief executive Michael O’Leary has criticised as “manifestly unfair”.
The jobs to go will be mainly pilot and cabin crew jobs, while other measures could see unpaid leave and pay slashed by up to 20%, as well as the closure of “a number of aircraft bases across Europe” until demand for air travel recovers.
Mr O’Leary, whose pay was cut by 50% for April and May, has agreed to extend the reduction for the remainder of the financial year to March 2021.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “We have never faced a period like this in the airline industry.
“When we do return to flying its clear we are going to have to fly with both hands tied behind our back because our competitors Lufthansa have just received €12bn in state aid, Air France is going to receive €10bn in state aid.
“These guys will have the money to engage in below cost selling for the next three or four years.
“So not only are we facing less flying with fewer flights, but prices are going to be incredibly low, which is good for consumers but bad for the airlines.
“And if we are going to carry a third less passengers this year I am afraid we are going to need fewer pilots and fewer cabin crew.”
Ryanair said in a statement: “As a direct result of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, the grounding of all flights from mid-March until at least July, and the distorted state aid landscape in Europe, Ryanair now expects the recovery of passenger demand and pricing (to 2019 levels) will take at least two years, until summer 2022 at the earliest.
“The Ryanair Airlines will shortly notify their trade unions about its restructuring and job loss programme, which will commence from July 2020.
“These plans will be subject to consultation but will affect all Ryanair Airlines and may result in the loss of up to 3,000 mainly pilot and cabin crew jobs, unpaid leave and pay cuts of up to 20%, and the closure of a number of aircraft bases across Europe until traffic recovers.
“Job cuts and pay cuts will also be extended to head office and back office teams. Group CEO Michael O’Leary, whose pay was cut by 50% for April and May, has now agreed to extend this 50% pay cut for the remainder of the financial year to March 2021.”