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Ryanair pilots not threatening industrial action, says Michael O'Leary

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary speaks during the company's AGM at the airline's Dublin headquarters this morning 
Deborah McAleese, Press Association


Ryanair pilots have not threatened industrial action, the airline's chief executive has said.

Michael O'Leary insisted there is no problem between the airline and its pilots.

He said however that if pilots "misbehave there will be no goodies."

Mr O'Leary was speaking following a meeting with shareholders at the airline's AGM in Dublin on Thursday amid the flight cancellation controversy.

During the meeting he said Ryanair is planning to take back one week of their pilots' holidays to prevent any further flight cancellations.

Mr O'Leary said pilots due to take a four-week block of holidays in the next few months because a change in annual leave rotas will be told to reduce that to three weeks.

He said they will get that week back in January.

When asked about reports that pilots are threatening industrial action Mr O'Leary responded: "If you want and need to ask your staff to give up holidays no work to rule can alter that."

He added:"I don't even know how there would be industrial action in Ryanair. There isn't a union."

He also said there have been no demands for new contracts.

Mr O'Leary continued that the airline has "some goodies" to discuss with pilots but warned: "If pilots misbehave that will be the end of the goodies."

He denied that was a threat to pilots against taking industrial action saying: "I don't think that can be misconstrued as a threat."

Mr O'Leary accused some pilots of being "precious about themselves" and "full of their own self importance".

"(Piloting a commercial plane) is very highly skilled but I challenge any pilot to explain how it is a difficult job or how they are overworked," he added.

Mr O'Leary insisted that Ryanair's pilots work under "good terms and conditions".

"There isn't a bad relationship between Ryanair and our pilots.

"We asked on Monday for volunteers to work days off ... we have had huge co-operation and support from pilots," he added.

Referring to pilots' pay he said "maybe we have got it a bit on the low side" and said it would be looked at.

Earlier Mr O'Leary was grilled by shareholders about the shelving of up to 50 flights every day over the next six weeks.

"We make mistakes. This time we made a major boo boo," said Mr O'Leary.

"A very big block of annual leave (for pilots) was over-allocated for September, October and November," he added

Mr O'Leary said that to help ensure no further cancellations after the six-week period, 500 pilots with a four-week block of leave booked for October and 500 in November will have to work one week of that leave.

"We will tell them, 'we will make it up to you'. We will be reasonable.

"We don't need their agreement.

"(Pilots) are not going to participate in work to rule. They want to succeed," he added.

He apologised to the 350,000 people affected by the cancellations.

"I seriously regret these cancellations and upsetting and worrying 80 million of our customers last week.

"We are working hard and long hours to address the passengers disrupted last weekend.

"By the end of this week over 95% of customers will be rebooked or refunded," said Mr O'Leary.

He also told shareholders the six weeks of cancellations has cost the airline around €25 million (£22 million).

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