Monday Briefing – 13 August 2018

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Ryanair Aircraft
Ryanair Aircraft (Image Credit: Ryanair)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 13 August 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look to the week ahead.

Trouble At Ryanair

As has been widely reported, Ryanair faced the biggest single act of industrial action in its near 35 year history last Friday.

Trade unions representing pilots of five countries (Germany, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium) undertook industrial action, leading to the cancellation of over 400 flights. Ryanair was caught off guard in Germany by pilots giving only 48 hours’ notice of industrial action.

Politico has a good primer on the background to the dispute. In essence, pilots at Ryanair bases around Europe wish to be employed under contracts recognised under local employment law and benefit from better employee protection, rather than contracts recognised Ireland.

Ryanair has withstood knocks before and is no stranger to public opprobrium. It launched its “Always Getting Better” initiative when even institutional investors were questioning its approach of effectively putting tripwires in front of customers. It survived mass cancellations last year when it couldn’t roster enough pilots. However, it will have to be able to live with trade union recognition in perpetuity and that requires it to find long term solutions and not short term fixes.

Ryanair has earlier this year signed a recognition agreement with the UK pilots union BALPA. However, there is no immediate prospect of any industrial dispute between BALPA and Ryanair’s UK pilots. If there was, there is a relatively lengthy ballot period and notice of industrial action required.

Trouble At Jet Airways

The Financial Times reports that Jet Airways has delayed indefinitely the release of its latest financial results. This is whilst it is “exploring sources of funding [as a] priority”.

Airlines in India have been grappling with a double whammy of rising fuel prices and a weakening local currency. Jet Airways is 24% owned by Etihad which has not indicated any sign being prepared to recapitalise Jet Airways.

The Sunday Times interviews Flybe CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener

The Sunday Times has interviewed Flybe CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener.

The airline continues to be loss making. A loss of £9.4m before tax was reported for the year to March 2018. Flybe has placed its future as an independent airline on downsizing its fleet and tighter cost control as well as improved IT.

Flybe has also has ambitions to launch a number of new UK regional routes from London Heathrow, should the third runway be built.

All the news that’s fit to print

Two passenger related stories gained significant media coverage last week. Both raised more questions than they provided answers.

A Briton getting in trouble abroad is a classic tabloid staple. The story of British mother being jailed in Dubai (and now released), ostensibly because she drank wine on an aircraft which has its own onboard bar, gained huge coverage in MailOnline and other outlets.

Another story concerns a family removed from a flight from London City to Berlin after the aircraft had to return to the gate. Again, ostensibly, this was because of a dispute between the family and the operating crew. BA, bound by a duty of passenger confidentiality, could only issue a curt statement “It is a safety requirement for all airlines that passengers are seated and have their seatbelt fastened for take-off.” (The Daily Mirror)

With digital journalists (read: people who never leave their desks) scraping each other’s websites, these stories spread like wildfire but leave readers none the wiser.

Also of note this week:

Who do airlines invest so much in creative safety videos? (The Drum)

Nearly half of all flights at Barcelona El Prat airport were delayed in July and Spain’s Public Works Ministry is demanding an explanation from Vueling. (El Pais English)

easyJet launches new routes from Gatwick to Aarhus, Aqaba, Rovaniemi and Warsaw from late October/early November 2018. (easyJet)

Amber Kirby, newly appointed Vice President, Marketing and Customer Experience at Virgin Holidays on her plans for the brand. (Marketing Week)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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