The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair is to cut twice as many jobs as previously announced, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the beginning of July, the airline, which operates out of Brussels and Charleroi, said it would have to cut 84 jobs from its aircrew staff – 40 pilots and 44 cabin crew.
Now, according to the company’s unions, that number has been revised upwards to 172 – 66 pilots and 106 cabin crew.
According to the company, the extra job losses are a result of the pandemic, and the loss of more bookings than previously expected.
For the unions, however, the announcement of extra job losses in the middle of an ongoing redundancy procedure is “unheard of”.
“We see the same scenario all over Europe,” said ACV union representative Hans Elsen.
“Ryanair is threatening layoffs in order to reduce wages and demand more flexibility.”
According to the union, the cuts will affect both Charleroi and Brussels.
In the second quarter, Ryanair saw traffic drop off by 99%, with a loss of €185 million. The company revised its traffic forecast for the year down from 80 million passengers to 60 million.
From July, however, business recovered, from next to nothing back to 40%, then to 60% in August. But bookings fell back 20% for September and October, as the fluctuations in Covid-19 numbers in certain destinations increased passenger uncertainty.
However analysts said the company suffered less from the pandemic than other airlines. Ryanair is not in the long-haul sector, and does not have business-class customers, who help to subsidise other airlines. And the company is able to weather difficulties relatively more easily as it has a substantially lower debt burden.
The jobs cuts, in that light, were “opportunistic,” Elsen said. Ryanair employs some 500 people in Belgium, the majority at Charleroi airport.
Just last week, Ryanair carried out a capital increase of €400 million, issuing 35.2 million new shares at €11.35, a discount of 2.6% on the latest closing price.
The Brussels Times