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26-09-2004, 16:19
Ryanair pilots to form pan-European union
Aimee Turner, London (24Sep04, 16:40 GMT, 291 words)

A “major statement” to be made next week by British pilots body BALPA is understood to be news that Ryanair pilots are set to form a 12-nation strong European association through which to negotiate terms and conditions with the Irish budget carrier.

The new association, to be called the Ryanair European Pilots Association, will have links with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) and will be supported by the European Cockpit Association (ECA).

The two pilot bodies reached an agreement in July to work together to develop the organisation of pilots at Ryanair. The unions said the agreement was the culmination of eight months' work evolving a strategy to "effectively address the issue of representation across the new breed of pan-European airlines".

The UK pilots' union has long battled to gain union recognition at the low-cost carrier, which is Irish-owned but has its major hub at London Stansted, and a move to set up a Europe-wide association is seen as an attempt to create a wide forum spanning the EU states where Ryanair has bases.

Last month, the International Transport Workers' Federation, which has been studying Ryanair's work practices, launched a Europe-wide Ryan Be Fair campaign against the airline and set up a website where staff could post their grievances.

The new association is also understood to be preparing to launch a website for members who will be offered free membership for the first six months.

A BALPA spokesman tells ATI: “BALPA and IALPA are considering together with the ECA the organisation of pilots at Ryanair. We expect to make a major statement on this issue next week.”

A Ryanair spokesman says the airline will make its own comment once any statement is issued.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news