Irish budget carrier, Ryanair, has carried out its threat to move its single based aircraft away from Copenhagen Airport as its disagreement with Danish unions continues. With effect from today (July 14, 2015) the single Boeing 737-800 has been transferred to Kaunas where the aircraft will continue to fly to/from Copenhagen from the Lithuanian city. The same day, Ryanair also announced the closure of its other Danish base in the city of Billund.
After Danish Unions rejected Ryanair’s offer to suspend their threatened sympathy action at Copenhagen airport (from July 18, 2015), despite the fact that these Unions admit that they have no members among Ryanair’s Copenhagen pilots or cabin crew, the low-cost carrier has decided to take a strong stance.
The move enables the carrier to maintain its network operations but without any Danish Collective Agreement, which would have restricted its operations from the Danish capital by making it difficult for the aircraft to refuel and arrangements to be made to handle aircraft, despite the airline’s pay and conditions for its pilots and cabin crew better than the standards set under the agreement.
“By moving the aircraft outside of Denmark, these blockades will now be illegal and so the Danish Unions have achieved nothing other than to export highly paid Danish jobs (and taxes) overseas,” said Ryanair’s head of personnel, Eddie Wilson.
He described the actions of the unions as an “anti-competitive ‘closed shop’,” which have previously played a role in the collapse of Danish carriers such as Maersk Air and Sterling Airlines as the unions are “unable to adapt to modern air travel where customers want low fares and efficiency not high costs, unionised inflexibility and inefficiencies”.
Ryanair announced its plans to establish the Copenhagen base in October last year as it continues to develop its network offering from primary airports to support business as well as leisure demand. The airline opened the base on March 18, 2015 with the single 737-800 but it planned to grow to three aircraft by the end of this year, delivering around one million passengers per annum from its second base in Denmark.
Although Copenhagen was a new city market for Ryanair, the carrier does have experience in serving the destination and for a while had marketed its flights into Malmo, Sweden as also serving the Danish market thanks to the easy access between the two locations thanks to Øresund Bridge that the links them.
“This is a black day for the Danish economy,” said Wilson. “Here you have Danish Unions destroying highly paid jobs for Danish pilots and cabin crew here in Copenhagen with the sole effect that those jobs now get exported overseas yet the fights to/from Copenhagen, the low fares and the competition with SAS will continue.”
Ryanair said it remains fully committed to serving Copenhagen, but will continue to do so via aircraft stationed at other European bases. It currently offers links to the Danish capital from Bergamo, Dublin, Kaunus, London Luton and Warsaw Modlin, while flights from Alicante, Brussels Charleroi, Budapest, Cologne/Bonn, Edinburgh, Madrid, Malaga, Rome and Stockholm Skavsta are due to commence this winter.
“Ryanair will continue to grow in Copenhagen airport. All of these flights will now take place on aircraft based outside of Denmark which demonstrates that the Danish model, cannot work in the airline industry where the aircraft and jobs are mobile,” said Wilson.
“We will continue to work with our partners in Copenhagen airport and Danish tourism as we invest in and grow traffic in Denmark, and we hope in time the Danish Unions will find a way to support high paid job creation here in Copenhagen instead of wasting time and money exporting Danish jobs overseas,” he added.
Meanwhile, at Billund the airline’s based aircraft will be transferred to London Stansted and Dublin. Ryanair plans to continue to operate 12 of its 14 summer routes to and from Billund, but will cut its four winter routes down to just one with services to Budapest, Malaga and Tenerife being dropped, leaving a link to London as the only surviving service. In the process Ryanair’s activities at Billund will be cut in half from around 700,000 annual passengers to just over 300,000.
“We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused to our people and our customers by this week’s base closures in Copenhagen and Billund, however the Danish unions have made clear that as long as we have any base in Denmark they intend to engage in secondary strikes,” added Wilson.
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