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The Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG), an independent organization representing a majority of pilots working for Ryanair, has challenged the management of the Irish carrier to enter into constructive dialogue with its pilots. At an inaugural press conference in Brussels on 29 Oct, Capt. Evert van Zwol, Chairman of the RPG Interim Council, extended a formal invitation to company management to enter into negotiations on a number of issues to improve the working conditions of pilots.

RPG Press ConferenceIn an interview in August 2013, the Ryanair CEO announced that having “about 1601 Ryanair pilots” organized might be sufficient for management to enter into negotiations with pilot representatives. The RPG has now confirmed its membership comprises a majority of employee and contractor pilots flying for Ryanair exceeding 1601. Referring to the recent ‘charm-offensive’ of the company towards its customers, Capt. Van Zwol called on “Ryanair 2.0” to honor its commitment and engage in talks with the group. 

One of the most pressing issues identified by the RPG is the lack of clarity in Ryanair’s employment ‘model’, where currently over 70% of its pilots are employed as contractors (self-employed or through contract agencies). The RPG cited results of a survey among its members, who have asked for a common basic contract for ALL pilots. Ryanair pilots have also given a mandate to the RPG Interim Council for negotiations on key issues such as individual tax disputes, a transparent and fair annual leave system and a transparent base transfer system.

While RPG is keen to negotiate, they also expressed disappointment that a large number of legal cases launched by Ryanair - such as the ones against the RPG Interim Council - make it difficult to move ahead with constructive discussions. Capt. Van Zwol reaffirmed that despite these legal challenges, RPG will continue to work for “Professional Treatment for Professional Pilots”. Ryanair responded with a single-sentence statement: "We don't comment on the activity or false claims of KLM or Aer Lingus pilots."