The dismissal process at the Faro base of Irish low-cost airline Ryanair covers 75 crew members, whose contracts expire on 8 January, the National Civil Aviation Personnel Union (SNPVAC) said.

“The temporary employment company Crewlink, which recruits cabin crew for the airline Ryanair, will stop working from the Faro base [8 January], causing the dismissal of crew members who have been working for the company for more than ten years,” reads the statement sent by the union.

In September, Ryanair reached an agreement with ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal - to maintain the base in Faro – albeit at a reduced level - as well as some of the jobs, but warned that the reduction from three to two planes at the base should lead to a loss of around 80 jobs in the process.

According to the union, the Faro base will continue to operate with 55 cabin crew, all from Ryanair and who “were coerced by the airline to sign an addendum to their contract, in which they gave up subsidies and retroactive pay until November 2018”.

The same source told Lusa news agency that this situation “still exists” and that, in many cases, “has led most of them to give up their entire careers”, as some of the crew have been working at the Faro base for more than ten years.

“All those who didn’t accept these conditions were penalised for four months with an 80 percent cut in their salary, according to the law of intermittent contracts”, the note reads.

According to SNPVAC, the reasons given by the company for the collective dismissal - a restructuring of the production organisation, delays in the delivery of Boeing 737 Max aircraft and a reduction in operations at Faro base - “do not correspond to reality”.

The union says that Ryanair, after several years of negotiations, accepted in November 2018 that workers in Portugal should be covered by Portuguese law, “forcing the Irish company to pay things as basic as holiday, Christmas and work insurance subsidies.

“Despite these obligations, the ‘low cost’ company still does not comply with these basic principles of general labour law in Portugal,” laments the union.

The SNPVAC has also tried, unsuccessfully, throughout the process, to meet with the company, “in order to solve these and other problems that cover all cabin crew based in Portugal”.

In this regard, the SNPVAC says it has requested a hearing with all parliamentary groups, ministries, and is still waiting for a meeting to be scheduled at the Directorate-General for Employment and Labour Relations (DGERT).

In a statement to The Portugal News, a spokesman for Ryanair said: “We are pleased to confirm that our Faro base will remain open – reduced from three based aircraft to two – thanks to our Faro-based crew who have agreed to transfer to seasonal contracts to reflect the seasonal nature of traffic to and from this region. Any claims of staff ‘coercion’ are untrue.

The spokesman added: “We thank our people for their cooperation during a challenging time for the European aviation industry due to the Boeing Max grounding, high oil prices and over capacity. We are working closely with pilot and cabin crew unions to minimise the impact on staff across Europe. However, we have very limited availability for pilot and cabin crew basing this summer due to the aforementioned challenges.”

It was initially reported on 6 August 2019 that Ryanair would be closing their base in Faro in January 2020, resulting in about 100 workers being layed off, although flights to the airport would continue by the airline.

At the time the president of SNPVAC, Luciana Passo, said that the decision to close the base was not related to the strike action planned by cabin crew in August 2019, nor was it connected to new bases opening in other European destinations.