Ryanair cabin crew across Europe are threatening to go on strike over the Summer holidays because the Dublin-based airline allegedly makes them work without access to water.
Unlike the vast majority of European airlines, Ryanair does not provide bottled water specifically for cabin crew and pilots. The policy supports Ryanair’s infamously frugal approach to operations but it stands in contrast to other low-cost carriers.
Operators including easyJet and Vueling provide cabin crew with bottled water because security rules introduced after 9/11 meant aircrew had to dump bottled drinks to get through security checks.
There is rarely an opportunity to fill up reusable bottles after passing through security. Providing bottled water and food is an acknowledgement by airlines that aircrew don’t have access to the same facilities as office workers who usually have access to canteen facilities or nearby cafes and shops.
A member of Ryanair cabin crew might not even be able to shop in the airport and will instead remain onboard the aircraft for the majority of their workday which can last up to 12-hours.
If cabin crew at Ryanair want to drink a bottle of water that they didn’t bring on the plane, then they are expected to pay for it from the onboard shop. Ryanair charges €3 for a 500ml bottle of San Bendetto water.
Unions in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain are frustrated with the pace of promised change in working conditions at the airline and are threatening a series of coordinated European-wide strikes this summer.
“The unions denounce the irregularities committed by Ryanair in the management of its personnel and the attacks on the rights of its workers such as the fact that the cabin crew continues to work without access to water on board the plane,” the Spanish USO union said in a statement on Friday.
The French SN-PNC union said its main demand of providing cabin crew with food and water had been rebuffed by Ryanair. “Faced with Ryanair’s disdainful behavior, the strike becomes our only option,” the union said.
Ryanair was hit by a wave of strikes in 2018 and 2019 after it finally agreed to let aircrew unionise. The airline said it was committed to improving pay and working conditions by reducing the use of contract staff and ending the controversial practice of making cabin crew pay for their own training and uniforms.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.