Just days after Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary suggested that co-pilots should be replaced with trained FAs, Ryanair Captain Morgan Fischer proposed this cost-cutting measure for the budget airline:
“I would propose that Ryanair replace the CEO with a probationary cabin crew member currently earning approximately €13,200 net per annum,” Capt Fischer has written in a letter to the Financial Times, which reported Mr O’Leary’s comments last week.
“Ryanair would benefit by saving millions of euros in salary, benefits and stock options,” the captain said, and there would be no need for approval from the authorities.
A Ryanair spokesperson genially responded:
“Michael thinks that cabin crew would make a far more attractive CEO than him – this obviously isn’t a very high bar – so we are going to seriously look at the suggestion,” said Stephen McNamara, a Ryanair spokesman. “After all, if we can train cabin crew to land the plane, it should be no problem training them to do Michael’s job as well.”
Jesting aside, what do you value more: cheap airfare or a relatively safer experience? While I certainly don’t think co-pilots have become "navigators" (i.e. dinosaurs), O’Leary at least gives us something to think about in justifying the proposed pilot cutback. In 25 years, Ryanair has had only one pilot who suffered a heart attack in flight, and he still landed the plane.
Traditions should not necessarily be perpetuated merely because they are traditions, but there’s something very psychologically comforting about having a back-up pilot onboard, even if computers do much of the flying today. I’m willing to pay more for each flight for that incremental boost in safety. I will say this, however: if Ryanair does eliminate the co-pilot position (highly unlikely to be approved by EU regulators and perhaps not even a realistic proposal from publicity-hungry O’Leary), I would still fly them.
(Tip of the hat to John)
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