Budget airline Ryanair cannot relocate 16 pilots based in the Netherlands to other countries as part of its plans to close down its Eindhoven base, a court in Den Bosch said on Thursday.
A group of Ryanair pilots went to court to have the relocation ruled illegal, arguing that the Irish company has taken the step because of the strikes by Dutch crew earlier this year.
The court agreed with this position. The decision has ‘all the appearance of a sanction following the earlier strikes,’ the court said. Pilots in Eindhoven have gone on strike twice this year in protest at changes to their secondary benefits.
Ryanair says the relocation is a consequence of the decision to close the Eindhoven base, because the aircraft that would be kept in the southern Dutch city now need to be placed elsewhere.
This is part of the airline’s strategy to keep costs as low as possible, the airline said, adding that pilots in Germany are in a similar position.
The court, however, said that Ryanair had not proved the necessity of shutting the Eindhoven base, despite the far-reaching impact that moving pilots abroad would have on their lives.
The court ruled that Ryanair must continue to pay the pilots’ salaries in line with Dutch law and ensure that they keep their flying skills up to scratch so that they can continue to fly Boeing 737s.
Ryanair told DutchNews.nl in a statement that it welcomed the ruling clearing the way for the Eindhoven base to close on November 5.
‘All pilots and cabin crew have already been offered base transfers, which protects their seniority and earnings, but if any crew members wish to choose redundancies over base transfers then we will respect that choice,’ Ryanair said.
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