Ryanair’s Strike Costs Mount With Biggest Walkout Yet

Ryanair Holdings Plc has been grappling with major strikes for the first time in its three-decade history. The disruption is headed for a new peak Friday with at least 400 flights lost across five nations as pilots ramp up a bid to wrest better contracts from a company defined by its penny-pinching culture.

What’s at stake?

Ryanair is Europe’s biggest low-cost airline thanks to the no-frills strategy of Michael O’Leary, its boss since 1994. Many of the demands being pursued by unions representing pilots and cabin crew — from higher salaries and pensions to free drinking water — would lift expenses, something Chief Operations Officer Peter Bellew says is unacceptable if it threatens the discount model.

Wringing Out Profits

Ryanair’s cost per passenger has been lower than its peers*

Source: Ryanair, Leeham Co., February 2017

How did it come to this?

O’Leary famously vowed never to accept unionization, but backed down in December after rostering foul-ups roiled Ryanair’s schedule. The unions were relatively quiet early this year as they drew up their demands — but battle was joined at the start of the summer season, when planes are packed and Ryanair makes most of its money, allowing strikers to hold its feet to the fire.

What do the unions say?


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