VIENNA (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.L) has appointed a third managing director at Laudamotion, the Austrian carrier said on Monday, tightening its grip on the leisure airline at a time when the Irish company is dealing with unrest among its employees across Europe.
Ryanair holds a 75 percent stake in Laudamotion, whose founder and minority shareholder Niki Lauda is still in hospital after a lung transplant this summer.
Michael O’Leary, the Irish budget carrier’s Chief Executive, and Lauda teamed up early this year after the collapse of Air Berlin in an attempt to expand in Germany and Austria and challenge flagship carrier Lufthansa (LHAG.DE).
Colin Casey, who was a commercial manager for Ryanair, will work together with managing director Andreas Gruber and Lauda, Laudamotion said.
“All three managing directors are only jointly authorised to represent the company,” Laudamotion said in a statement.
One of the most pressing issues is negotiations with the Austrian GPA trade union over a collective wage agreement.
A deal, initially envisaged in summer, is now expected in the autumn. So far, Laudamotion passengers have been spared strikes, unlike its Irish partner.
Ryanair, which is Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, has struggled with labour relations despite bowing to pressure to recognise trade unions for the first time last December. Industrial unrest has escalated in recent months.
A pan-European body representing Ryanair pilot unions on Friday described the Irish airline’s decision to close two bases and reduce its capacity this winter as a “declaration of war” on unions and said the move must be reversed to make progress.
Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, editing by Louise Heavens and Kirsten Donovan