Ryanair’s Lauda airline shuts down Vienna base

VIENNA (Reuters) – Ryanair’s (RYA.I) Austrian carrier Lauda said on Friday it was closing down its Vienna base after failing to reach an agreement with unions on pay, and had already relocated many of its 15 planes to other bases.

FILE PHOTO: Ryanair planes are seen at Dublin Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Dublin, Ireland, May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said earlier this month that the group would shut down Lauda’s main hub in the Austrian capital and bring in Ryanair jets instead unless staff agreed to a pay cut and a new labour agreement.

A Lauda spokeswoman said the shut-down involved the loss of around 370 jobs and comes after Lauda failed to agree a new collective wage deal with the union even after management made a new offer with improved conditions on Thursday.

Austria’s Vida union refused to agree to Lauda’s proposals as it said they would hit some staff unacceptably hard.

“We are fully aware of the fact that you have to make a contribution in times of crisis,” Roman Hebenstreit, chief of Austria’s vida union told radio station ORF on Friday.

However, having to negotiate contracts that would push the income of employees that work full time and in shifts to below the “poverty threshold” was “out of proportion.”

The union is still willing to negotiate, a vida union spokesman told Reuters. So far no new talks had been agreed upon, he added.

Austian media had reported that some Lauda staff in Vienna has criticised the union for its tough stance.

The Lauda spokeswoman said the company had not managed to pay the May salaries for about 200 staff in Germany after the local labour office had rejected a proposal for reduced work hours.

“This is an organisational problem, we are working very hard to pay out the wages in the next few days,” the spokeswoman said.

Ryanair bought the Austrian airline from Former Formula One racing champion Niki Lauda in 2018 as part of a move to a broader structure with several airline brands.

Lauda’s Vienna base last had hosted half of the airline’s 30 A320s. O’Leary has said he planned to keep Lauda’s other bases in Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Palma open.

Many of Lauda’s planes have been relocated to bases in London Stansted, Duesseldorf and Palma de Mallorca.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle. Editing by Jane Merriman

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