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Former Ryanair captain slams airline for 'soul-destroying experience'

22nd Sep 17 11:06 am

More trouble for the airline

The turbulent times for Ryanair do not seem to halt. A former captain of Europe’s biggest airline has now launched a scathing attack on its management and ‘penny-pinching’ boss Michael O’Leary.

The disgruntled pilot, identified as James Atkinson, went on to accuse airline boss O’Leary of  openly insulting his pilots and maintaining a policy of “heading off any attempt to achieve a collectively bargained contract.” Atkinson was a captain with the Irish airline for eight years before he moved to work in China.

Atkinson told media how the working conditions were difficult and flying long-haul journeys was a ‘soul-destroying experience’. “The fatigue of flying for Ryanair is quite real. I was regularly sent out of my base to fly on my days off and without pay to distant Ryanair bases that had a staffing shortage. I would take connecting flights and sometimes overnight layovers to arrive, with hotels paid by me and not reimbursed.

Once there, I would report for duty, fly a heavy flight schedule for five consecutive days, then face the arduous journey back to my home base,” he said.

The pilots are required to pay for their own water on duty as no staff member is “entitled to even a free bottle of water while working. If you want it, you buy it,” Atkinson further alleged. The accusations come just hours after O’Leary announced to the shareholders his intention of hiring more pilots in the coming week.

There are growing reports in media that while the profitability of the airline may largely stay unaffected by this current chaos, the flight cancellations could, however, impact Ryanair’s potential acquisition of Italy’s carrier Alitalia. Italy’s consumer protection organization, Konsumer, has already raised a question on Ryanair’s feasibility as the best buyer for Alitalia in the light of recent cancellations and pilot chaos.

The airline has already angered many customers by canceling up to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks, after being left short-staffed by a botched revamp of its internal vacation planning. Ryanair estimates that the total cost will be around £22 million.

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