Ryanair Reaches Deal With Irish Pilots, Sending Stock Higher

(Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc reached a new labor deal with protesting Irish pilots after a marathon negotiating session, pointing to the end of a dispute that’s disrupted travel for thousands of passengers across Europe.

Shares of Ryanair rose the most in three months in Dublin, where the company is based, following 22 hours of discussions that finished early Thursday. The accord will now be put to a ballot of pilots, with the Forsa labor group, which led the talks, recommending that they accept it.

A settlement in Ireland is seen as key to resolving a wider dispute at Ryanair, as it was staff in the carrier’s home country who initiated a near year-long push for better employment terms. The Irish pilots last walked out on Aug. 10 in an action that also involved crews from Germany, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands, causing more than 400 flights to be scrapped.

The breakthrough marks the first collective labor agreement at Europe’s biggest discount airline since it agreed to accept unionization amid a staff-rostering crisis at the end of last year. As such, it represents a “notable positive” for the company, Goodbody analyst Mark Simpson wrote in a note.

Ryanair shares advanced as much as 6 percent, their biggest intraday jump since May 21. The stock was trading 5.5 percent higher at 13.87 euros as of 9:03 a.m. in the Irish capital.

Promotion, Transfers

The Irish discussions focused on promotion, annual leave and Ryanair’s ability to switch pilots between its different bases, as well as pay. The company said via Twitter that it will take the proposals to its board for approval once the pilots have voted.

The talks were mediated by Kieran Mulvey, a labor-relations veteran and former chairman of the Irish Workplace Relations Commission, who asked that no public comment be made while the ballot is conducted, according to Forsa. An deal had appeared to be close last week after four days of talks.

The developments in Dublin came as the carrier’s Dutch cabin crew last night voted to strike over pay and labor conditions, though that operation has just one base, in the city of Eindhoven, with 83 staff, of whom only 30 are directly employed by Ryanair.

The Vereinigung Cockpit pilot union in Germany said immediately after the Irish announcement that it was unaware of the agreement. The labor group isn’t involved in mediation of its own right now and “must wait and see what the next days will bring,” a spokesman said.

While Ryanair has sought to rebook strike-affected passengers on other flights, it has felt the pinch, with earnings dropping 20 percent in the quarter through June and passenger growth last month subsiding to the slowest this year.

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