Ryanair’s low-cost Austrian subsidiary has hit back at serious allegations made by a pilots association that claimed flight crew and flight attendants were scared of reporting sick for fear that they might face disciplinary action, including being sacked. A spokesperson for Luadamotion said the charges had been circulated by a pilots group who also represent Austrian Airlines flight crew because the airline is struggling against the competition.
Several days ago, the Austrian Cockpit Association (ACA) claimed Laudamotion had recently introduced an “aggressive” new sickness policy which was based on Ryanair’s own long-criticised work rules. Crew members who accrue 10 or more sick days in a rolling 12-month period receive “scary” warning letters which go into “meticulous” detail about how an individual’s poor performance is bad for the company.
Once a crew member accrues 12 or more sicks days within a year they face harsh disciplinary action… including the threat of losing their job. Pilots and flight attendants have complained that even the process of reporting sick has been made deliberately difficult – with a new requirement to report sick at least two hours before a flight and with a doctors note already in hand.
The ACA claimed the rules were putting crew members off reporting sick because they were scared of being disciplined – which they fear poses a serious safety risk because pilots and flight attendants won’t be performing at their best in safety-critical roles.
But Luadamotion has contacted us to reject what it describes as “false claims” from the pilots union.
“Like all airlines, Lauda rosters over 60 crew members every single day to cover unexpected sickness of pilots and cabin crew, which can take place at any time for valid reasons. Lauda pilots and cabin crew have a legal duty not to report for duty if they feel unwell or are unable to perform their rostered duties and we support them fully in this area,” a spokesperson explained.
“However, like all employers, Lauda monitors and manages the small number of cases of excessive, repeated, and/or suspicious absences such as those which repeatedly occur either immediately before or after days off or annual leave,” the emailed statement continued.
But the European Cockpit Association, which is an umbrella organisation that represents 40,000 pilots in 33 European countries, said it was concerned the sickness policy adopted by Ryanair and its subsidiaries is a “safety hazard” which must be “considered endemic and quite evidently is not adequately addressed by the competent national authority”.
According to a letter seen by Reuters, the pan-European pilot’s group has raised its concerns with both the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) and Irish civil aviation regulators. The authorities in Ireland concluded that there was no evidence that unfit pilots or cabin crew were regularly working on flights and that there was no immediate safety issues.