Ryanair will shut down its base at Bremen and downscale operations at Weeze, near Düsseldorf, within the next few days following a profit warning and the latest strikes in Germany.
The Irish low-cost carrier announced the cuts at the two German airports along with the closure of its base at Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, in a trading update where it warned of lower profits this year. This came just days after a major strike by pilots and cabin staff affecting more than 100 flights in Germany and about 250 in total.
Ryanair will transfer the two planes currently stationed in Bremen to other airports on November 6, affecting about 90 employees based in the northern German city. Foreign-based planes will operate “most” of the current Bremen routes instead.
In parallel, two of the five planes stationed at Weeze, whose catchment area covers the prosperous Düsseldorf region, will also be relocated. The three remaining planes will operate “most” of the current routes from the regional airport in future.
Ryanair claimed the cutbacks were a result of rising costs, including for fuel and passenger compensation for flight delays, as well as lower ticket prices, caused partly by the recent strikes.
But pilots union Cockpit and the public services union Verdi, which are campaigning for a collective pay deal for Ryanair pilots and cabin staff in Germany, criticised the decisions, which threaten jobs at the two locations.
Cockpit vice-president Markus Wahl claimed: “The threat by Ryanair can only be interpreted as a reaction to the strike. Ryanair’s behaviour is not acceptable and is clearly designed to put pilots under pressure.”
The union claimed that the airline was not interested in a mediated agreement but Ryanair countered that it would agree to mediation under certain conditions, including a five-week process instead of the five months proposed by the union.
Similarly, Verdi claimed the measures in Bremen and Weeze were ‘punishment’ for the strike action. Christine Behle, a member of the union’s executive committee, declared: “We call on Ryanair to reverse this decision straight away and not to threaten the employees’ (financial) existence.”