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Ryanair Holdings hands German pilots full contracts in peace overture

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Passengers step down the aircraft of the Irish low-cost airline company Ryanair. -- AFP

RYANAIR Holdings Plc. will offer direct employment to some German pilots currently working under contract, as a recruitment specialist ends its services for the discount carrier in the country.

“Ryanair has now begun the process of offering these contractors direct employment,” the Irish airline said in an e-mail after UK-based McGinley Aviation wrote to air crew confirming its withdrawal in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

McGinley Managing Director Elizabeth Cusack said in a separate e-mail that her firm reached the decision itself following an operational review and will continue serving Ryanair in all other countries.

The switch may help pave the way for a unionization deal between the Dublin-based airline and its German pilots after they staged the first strike in the company’s history on Dec. 22. The four-hour stoppage was called after a breakdown in talks with the Vereinigung Cockpit labor group over the transition to collective bargaining.

Vereinigung Cockpit is aware of the McGinley letter, and the change to direct contracts is a welcome development, though tax implications need to be clarified, the union’s international relations officer James Phillips said by phone.

Germany, where about half of Ryanair’s pilots are outside contractors, has remained a thorn in the carrier’s side after it secured labor accords in markets including the UK and Ireland. Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary has been forced to drop a long-standing anti-union stance after staff gained bargaining power following a rostering mixup that led 20,000 flights to be scrapped.

McGinley will end its work for Ryanair in Germany on Oct. 31, according to its letter. — Bloomberg