Trade unions sound alarm over Ryanair CEO’s bonus pay in the time of mass dismissals and state support provided to the airline

24 Sep 2020

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) condemn the shareholders’ decision to pay out a €458,000 bonus to Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary after the carrier made thousands of workers redundant, cut workers’ salaries and took state pandemic support.


Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary and the company’s unscrupulous methods of making money at the cost of transport workers’ rights are well-known in the aviation industry and beyond. Despite widespread low expectations of conduct, the latest €458,000 bonus is a new low of offensive behaviour towards workers, their families and society at large.

The ITF and the ETF condemn the decision of Ryanair shareholders to back the paying out of €458,000 bonus to Michael O’Leary. Likewise, they condemn the decision of Michael O’Leary to accept the extra pay, at a time when the airline has received state support and, despite this, has let go thousands of workers in massive job cuts and proceeded with salary cuts for remaining employees.

“This is yet another example of disrespectful behaviour of an airline top executive,” said Josef Maurer, ETF Head of Aviation. “It demonstrates an absolute disregard for Ryanair’s workers. It is time for everyone, including policymakers, shareholders, investors and the travelling public to recognise the disgraceful working conditions of aviation workers and condemn such behaviour.”

The Ryanair CEO’s bonus comes after the carrier received state support, provided for from taxpayers’ money, and implemented salary reduction and salary freezes for its staff. If the airline is serious about the need to cut costs and salaries, impacting all its workforce in an attempt to solve the ongoing cash-flow problems, massive bonuses are simply unjustifiable.

Instead of rewarding appalling behaviour with bonuses, Ryanair should focus on addressing its terrible track record on workers’ rights: the poor state of working conditions, the spread of precarious employment practices, bogus self-employment, union-busting and creating an environment of hostility and fear among its workforce.

These are not the achievements of a person that deserves a €458,000 bonus, on top of a CEO salary.

We take this opportunity to reiterate that substandard working conditions are common to many low-cost carriers operating in Europe. It is therefore urgent that European governments take initiatives to promote decent standards in the sector notably through the promotion of sectoral collective agreements.