Ryanair is lobbying the Irish government to change tax regulations such that the airline could meet a key demand of unions to contract staff under the employment laws of the country in which they reside.
Speaking at a media briefing in London today, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said that at present the budget carrier could only offer its employees Irish contracts because the aircraft they work on were registered in the country, and its management based there.
O'Leary says Ryanair employees based outside of Ireland can pay their social taxes in their country of residence but must pay their income tax in Ireland. He notes that Ryanair cabin crew typically earn amounts that subject them to Ireland's higher tax rate.
"Ireland has this image as a corporate tax haven with low corporate tax rate, which to some extent it is, but it's penal [to] the person," he says.
He is "hopeful" the Irish government will acknowledge this as "major issue". He adds that if the government declines to make the necessary changes, Ryanair may be forced to apply for air operator certificates in other European countries as an alternative solution.
O'Leary says Ryanair would be open to providing staff with local contracts if it gained regulatory approval to do so. Such a concession has been a key demand of European unions representing Ryanair pilot and cabin crew across Europe.
He says such a move is part of the "bedding-down process" of dealing with local unions, which Ryanair in December 2017 agreed to start recognising.