Ryanair goes through with Eindhoven closure despite court ban

Photo: Ryanair
Ryanair. (Ryanair)

Irish budget airline Ryanair plans to go through with the closure of its base at Eindhoven Airport on November 5th. This is despite the fact that the court in The Hague ruled on Thursday that the airline made the decision to close the base on unlawful grounds and has to forgo the closure, NOS reports.

Ryanair announced that it was early last month. For Ryanair employees working from Eindhoven, this means that they will have to be transferred abroad or lose their jobs. 16 pilots, with the help of trade unions FNV and VNV, took the Irish airline to court. According to the pilots, the decision to close the Eindhoven base was simply earlier in the summer. The judge ruled in favor of the pilots on Thursday. "It would seem that the decision was made as a sanction on previous strike actions", the judge said, according to NOS.

According to Ryanair, the closure of the base and transfer of personnel is necessary for commercial reasons. Ryanair constantly strives for the lowest costs in its business model, which is why the Eindhoven base has to close, the airline said. However, the court ruled that Ryanair did not sufficiently prove the need for this closure. According to the judge, there is therefore no substantial interest n the transfer of staff. 

Ryanair also argued that its employees fall under Irish law, because the Dutch personnel have an Irish employment contract. The judge also dismissed that argument. "This does not mean that an employer can deprive Dutch employees of the protection that Dutch law offers", the court said. 

Joost van Doesburg of pilots' union VNV called the ruling a "big win for the 16 pilots and actually for all Ryanair employees", NOS reports. "Actually Ryanair thinks that employees should not stand up for their rights, but the judge put a stop to tat today. A big day for employee law in the Netherlands."

Ryanair's team of lawyers agreed with their client not to respond to the ruling. The airline itself released a statement later. "We see in this judgment the possibility of continuing the closure of Eindhoven on 5 November. Pilots can be transferred with retention of salary. If they prefer a dismissal, we respect that."

Van Doesburg isn't really surprised, he said to the broadcaster. "Ryanair seems to cut back on everything, except for lawyers. The whole legal box of tricks is now open. We'll see what happens."

On Thursday a letter leaked in which five European ministers call on Ryanair to comply with the laws and regulations of the countries where its employees work. Minister Wouter Koolmees of Social Affairs and Employment is one of the signatories of the letter, which is addressed to Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary.