Ryanair – just doing it!

Last June 4th in Brussels was held "A Social agenda for transport", a high-level Conference where John Horne laid bare aviation's challenges once again, until...

Today, we will confront facts yet again and see what this Michael Hickey is all about.

Initial claims

Time and again, regarding bogus self-employment, pay-to-fly and social dumping in general, we quote:

"[Ryanair doesn't comment on] false claims and anonymous surveys [that are] total rubbish [with] no basis in fact or evidence. Since Ryanair only recruits fully qualified pilots, no Ryanair pilots 'pay to fly'. These pilot union claims are simply untrue [...] [It is] false accusations [...] none of the Ryanair pilots pay-to-fly"

Reality check

First, if all the recruits at Ryanair are "fully qualified", it is rather bizarre some are referred to as "cadets" entitled to pay their B737 NG type ratings €29,500 (TR - an aircraft qualification), £260 non-refundable assessment fee (CAE's cut?) excluded.

Let's assume those are not the pilots Robien Kiely was referring to, mentionning (directly) employed pilots rather than "self-employed" ones.
Indeed as of october 5th 2012 for instance...
full screen

...689 pilots were self-employed, becoming "Company Representatives" for their own Limited Companies through one of the following "accountants" (all in Ireland of course):

One can have a look at one of them, O'Connor & Associates' modus operandi described by themselves for instance (oops, looks like Italy lost some tax revenue).

How does Ryanair hire those pilots Company Representatives? Simple, it does not!
(oh I'm sorry, was that document confidential?) full screen

Instead, the hirer ("Ryanair Plc") pays the services of an independent contractor (Brookfield here) which in turn engages the independent Service Company operated by none other than the Company Representative, aka the pilot!

In other words, Mr O'Leary's (and his minions') left hand doesn't know what his right hand is doing (at least that's what our legal system is buying)!


Coming back to Ryanair's Brookfield's "self employed" pilots err... I mean "Service Companies", item 5 of their contract:

"The Company Representative will be responsible for the cost of the line training flights [...] The charge of €20 psbh [per schedule block hour] is payable for all flights operated until the end of the calendar month that the company representative is line checked."

Which means once translated into english:

"Pilots will pay line adaptation flights at a rate of €20 per scheduled block hour until the end of the month they are officially accustomed to their aircraft" [up to €150 provided 5.a or 5.b]

Meaning only one thing:
Michael Hickey was right to be pissed! There is no pay-to-fly going on at Ryanair's, it's Brookfield that does it on their behalf! Oh wait...

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Status quo: 1 – Safety: 0

In the ongoing war against (bogus) atypical employment in aviation, a battle was lost today in the Netherlands, June 2nd 2015, day #56 of the "Stop pay to fly" campaign.

Following a Dutch Parliament hearing (that occurred the same day as the EP hearing on the same topic), Dutch media awareness was triggered 10 days afterwards with 6 different media outlets releasing publication simultaneously on May 17th:

The latest was the basis (explicitly referenced) for Dutch MEPs (from PvdA, CDA and Christian Union) to draft a set of 4 questions on May 22, asked by Dutch MP Martijn Van Helvert to their Government.
The answers came today from Secretary of State Mrs Wilma Mansveld (picture above), english translation below (courtesy De vervlogen droom):

While we remain confident this kind of statements won't hurt her career (for lack of content), we find extremely challenging to quote any argument promoting the defense of the greater good. Nevertheless, we dare quote:

"Given the fact that EASA tackles this issue [p2f] appropriately [...] from a safety point of view there is as yet no reason to intervene at a national level"

...and since the same EASA actually made clear p2f was none of their business, there will be no reason to intervene at European level either! (their study is not yet public)

Someone please also hide this 2012 European Court of Auditors special report that unveiled the wrongful handling of potential conflict of interest at the EASA, or riots could start tomorrow.

edit June 3: apparently this is not over, new questions might arise...
edit June 23: the 2nd round of answers followed yesterday. No substantial answers so far.

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Less than 3 short weeks after the EP event, still in accordance with our road map for the "grand scheme of things", the right dominos continue to fall one after the other.

The following is the latest, presented with no comment...

Source: CockpitSeeker.

edit June 6th: "How can Nicolas, 20, living in Toulouse and dreaming to become a pilot afford to pay for his flight hours if he is subject to the so called pay-to-fly scheme?" _European Commission speech

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European Parliament – pilots’ interest

Date:Day #9 of the "Stop pay fo fly" campaign, (May 7th, 2015), 1500-1700.
Event: European Parliament (EP) meeting - Committee on Employment and Social Affairs - Current situation of employment and working conditions in the European civil aviation sector. --Exchange of views with experts. EMPL(2015)0507_1

[ECA vice president John Horn (second from the right) at the EP with his team and a SNPL member_picture courtesy ECA]

Since only Irish Examiner covered the event, the following is our best attempt to do so from the inside in the most suitable way.

Backstage plot - politics

--MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) from the EMPLOYMENT & TRANSPORT Committee of the European Parliament to put a parliamentary question before the European Commission on P2F--

Awareness on the P2F issue is growing in the European Parliament following the growing success of our petition and the latest events (ECA Conference on Atypical Work, hearing at the Transport Commitee, personal contacts with members of the European parliament).

German MEP Ms Jutta Steinruck has been present in many of these events and made several interventions pleading for the end of abusive employment practices in aviation, highlighting P2F in particular.
We have learned that she has now put a written parliamentary question to the Commission, co-signed with other MEPs.

Stakeholders - defending general interest

[Mrs Chicca, Mr Horne and Mr Turnbull from foreground to background]

During the EP meeting, in order, intervened among the expert speakers:

  • Emmanuelle Jahan, European and International Social Dialogue Commitee Chairman and permanent social affairs representative of Air France-KLM in Brussels (1)
  • Elisabetta Chicca, Chair of the Cabin Crew Committee for the ETF (European Transport workers Federation) (2),
  • John Horne, ECA Vice-President and professional pilot (3)
  • Peter Turnbull, Professor of Human Resource Management and Labour Relations at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, (4)
  • Lien Valcke and Dirk Gillis, Coordinator of IRIS (International Research Institute on Social fraud), both European study co-authors (5)

Were voiced clearly, the aviation sector challenges, namely:

  • Unfair competition due to labour outsourcing, social contribution evasion and subsidy bias; flags of convenience with intermediary businesses setups, fiscal imbalance (1);
  • Social security rules for mobile staff, abnormal use of precarious and temporary workers that ultimately endangers European jobs, wages and safety (2);
  • Atypical employment (zero hours contracts, P2F...), authorities rules enforcement and oversight, home base, visa rules for air crew (3);
  • Social dumping through fake independent workers (Ireland, Ryanair & bogus self employment) (4);
  • European study proceedings & findings presentation (5).

[full video transcript available at]

More than voicing concerns, our stakeholder representatives issued solutions and alternatives, which should be praised and looked at very carefully (apprenticeship instead of p2f?).
Together with the recent Danish report on "social dumping & rule shopping in aviation" where, quote:

"The EASA has also, following a Danish submission and at the request of the European Commission, initiated an analysis of the possible impact of the new business and employment models on aviation safety"._page 7

...that complements fairly well 2014's French National Assembly report on passengers' safety in air transport, we are now looking forward to said EASA findings...

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P2F: European Parliament

A few days ago, on Day #2 (april 30th) of the campaign to "Stop Pay To Fly", just as we finished discussions at VNV's office that concluded with their open support the same day:

...we learnt that the topic would be raised at an EP (European Parliament) small Hearing this 7th of May afternoon in the EP EMPL (Employment) Committee, where the Ghent University, Cardiff University, ECA, AEA and ETF (which all played a role in shaping the European study on atypical employment) will make presentations and engage in Q&A with the related MEPs (Members of the European Parliament).

We hold good faith in our representatives and hope their political interlocutors will fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation.


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Official launch: P2F campaign!

Today April 28th 2015, all hands on deck, the European Cockpit Association officially launched the campaign to Stop "pay to fly".

Pay-to-fly must stop! from EuropeanCockpitAssociation on Vimeo.

Must read include:

And now we leave it to anyone to wonder on the facts: is something wrong with our industry?


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A cut above

Of all the "businesses" that "offer" to pay to work (aka debt servitude or leverage to threaten pilots), there is one that remains a cut above the rest:

Eagle Jet: "pay a measy 87,500€ and you will fly 1000 hours as an A320 airline pilot, no salary and no employment guaranteed (assessment cost not included)"! (Make haste, vacancies are closing this month!!!)

This is what it takes to find a job and set a new low in the aviation industry, considering this is just a legal "game".
It makes anyone wonder: Where. Are. Our. Regulators? Unless our Authorities regain a sense of dignity and accountability, next crash is on them.

pdf file

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Safety, begone!

Quoting Dominique Fouda, EASA's Head of Communication & Quality Department in summer 2014:

"The fact that airlines make their personnel pay does not intervene in aviation safety regulation, as long as pilots are technically qualified" _source

Today we will debunk this statement again with another document. Fast backward.

July 10th 2013, a Project Manager and former Flight Ops IT Super User from Ryanair created this document:

[Congratulations "CIOFRI" (now flying in Asia)! // "SALAIS", you've been a bad bad boy...]

Surprisingly enough, this document (sometimes followed by a reminder via mail to "comply with SOP") appeared after July 26th 2012, when three Ryanair flights made 'mayday' emergency landings for low fuel reasons (as was heavily covered worldwide), even after the CIAIAC's investigation (that was included in 2010 RYR's other accident report) and IAA's recommendation "to review fuel policy".

How similar documents might have influenced the events of 2012 (and possibly before) remains unclear, however much worrying is what little might have changed (internal sources allege the 'fuel league' stopped summer 14).

Just like "pay to play/fly" scenarios, isn't financial pressure an undesirable leverage on safety? Let alone human factors (in this era where airlines pride themselves on CRM). We must assume:

"The fact that airlines make their personnel pay take liberties with safety culture does not intervene in aviation safety regulation, as long as pilots are technically qualified comply with minimum legal fuel requirements" ?

At this point, our Regulators can drop the pretense for concern:

"Safety does not intervene in safety as long as it's legal"

There we go! No wonder the system is gamed...

edit June 1, 2015: the danish caught up with the fuel league here and there on May 19, 2015, triggering a European Parliament question on May 27...
edit July 7: hope was short lived. Move along, nothing to see here!

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IFALPA in the fight

In the recently published issue n°2, 2015 of "InterPilot", The Safety and Technical Journal of none other than IFALPA (our International Federation of Air Line Pilot’s Associations), must-read elements were showcased!

Aviation related issues were brought "to the top" thanks to the ECA sustained efforts in spreading the study carried out on behalf of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Civil Aviation by the University of Ghent (Belgium) and funded by the European Commission!

Why of course this includes "pay to fly"!


We quote: "Next Generation Pilots Pay-to-Fly".
Where have we heard that again? Oh that's right, during the ECA conference (last 12-13 february, where we stood up):

P2F perpetrators bring it on. We have plenty more where that came from.