The Allied Pilots Association represents 15,000 pilots at American Airlines. RON T. ENNIS Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis
The Allied Pilots Association represents 15,000 pilots at American Airlines. RON T. ENNIS Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis

Business

Why an American Airlines union wants to help pilots in Ireland

By Benjamin Katz

Bloomberg News

October 03, 2017 02:35 PM

Pilots at Ryanair Holdings, who are campaigning for unionization amid a staffing crisis at the Irish discount airline, have been offered financial backing from the pilots union at American Airlines.

The Allied Pilots Association has offered to support Ryanair crews in forming a union or joining an existing body such as the Irish Air Line Pilots Association, according to APA President Daniel Carey, who met with the Dublin-based carrier’s employees last week. The APA is aiming to stem the hiring of staff on unappealing contracts through outsourcing firms.

“We’ve been following the Ryanair model and we don’t want indirect employment to come to America,” Carey said, adding that the Fort Worth-based APA is open to pitching in with communication expertise, IT support, additional manpower and financial assistance.

Dan Carey is president of the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines.
Brandon Wade Star-Telegram

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Ryanair has been forced to scrap some 20,000 flights after the carrier failed to prepare for a change to annual-leave rules, requiring it to cram a year’s worth of vacation into nine months. The timetable cuts will trim growth and threaten to hurt the company’s reputation, giving employees a chance to unionize, something Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said last month would come only when “hell freezes over.”

Pilots everywhere are particularly keen to head off a trend toward third-party hiring led by Ryanair, which not only results in inequitable contracts and a lack of collective-bargaining power but also makes it tougher to secure pensions, Carey said. The APA would assist with any campaigns that might be organized as well as help fund legal costs.

“It’s time to cut out the Michael the Miser act and sit down and have a proper labor-relations department,” he said. “That works better for the passengers, the shareholders, for management and for pilots.”

Carey didn’t say how much financial support the APA, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots and is the largest independent union for aviators, might be able to provide to Ryanair employees. The association is active in Washington and has lobbied on issues including flight safety, training and the reduction of fatigue, though providing funds abroad would be an unusual step.

Ryanair has already agreed to raises of 10,000 euros ($11,760) for captains and 5,000 euros for first officers stationed in Dublin, London Stansted, Berlin and Frankfurt, and plans to meet with other base representatives in coming months.