A quite unusual procedure by the Ryanair subsidiary Lauda employed the police at Stuttgart Airport. The carrier asked crews for alcohol and drug tests. However, these were not ordered by the Federal Aviation Office, but the carrier itself commissioned an Irish laboratory that wanted to take hair samples.
From police circles it is reported that the incident at Stuttgart Airport is quite unusual, because pilots have had to be prepared for tests since the Germanwings crash, but these are usually always ordered and carried out by the authorities. In addition, there is currently no legal basis for flight attendants to carry out such tests. Although this is currently under discussion in Brussels, nothing has yet been decided.
Safety is always the most important good in aviation, which is why some airlines have created the basis for carrying out alcohol and drug tests on the basis of an operating or individual agreement. In many recent Ryanair and Malta Air employment contracts - including through temporary employment agencies - this is regulated in a clause, for example. The employee's consent is then given. Quite different, however, with old Lauda contracts, because such a passage does not exist in them. There is also no company agreement, because the Ryanair subsidiary does not have a works council in Germany with which such an agreement could be concluded.
The process of such tests, regardless of whether an official control is carried out or on the basis of an operating or individual agreement, is regulated in Germany in the Aviation Security Act. It also states that a doctor must be present.
From police circles it is heard that the way in which the tests were carried out led to the intervention of the executive. A lady is said to have been on site who, according to her own statements, comes from the Irish company Randox Testing Services. A legitimation as a doctor, which is necessary according to the Aviation Security Act, is said to have just as little proven as an order from the airline Lauda or a German authority. Ultimately, the police are said to have established that the person who carried out the tests was not supposed to have been in the security area of Stuttgart Airport in accordance with the regulations. However, precise information on the official act of the executive was not given.
In any case, considerable pressure is said to have been exerted on the German Lauda staff on site. The drug test should be done using a hair sample taken from the lady, who claims to be from an Irish laboratory. And not during regular working hours, by the way, but the employees are said to have been "intercepted" on the way to their parking spaces and to have been informed by the base supervisor that participation in this test is mandatory.
In the usual Ryanair manner, they insisted that the drug tests be carried out and pointed out that anyone who crosses the line is automatically considered "suspicious" and has to face consequences. The Stuttgart base is to be closed on October 31, 2020. The terminations of employment have already been distributed, but from this base one only flies on the days of Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday under the pretext of allegedly low demand.
This also has the consequence that there is currently obviously a large surplus of personnel, since the current flight plan would also have to be managed with significantly fewer pilots and flight attendants. Accordingly, it would be speculatively possible that the Ryanair Group is looking for misconduct by employees in order to be able to terminate one or the other employment relationship early by giving notice without notice. At least there is supposed to be pressure in this direction and in the past mere “suspected cases” at Ryanair led to dismissals without notice more often. In labor court proceedings, however, the Irish low-cost airline was mostly unsuccessful.
However, the behavior of the European supervisory authorities is also conspicuous, because according to reports, there are certainly more security-relevant information about alleged misconduct, which arise in particular due to enormous pressure on the staff. The authorities rarely intervene. In Austria, Austro Control carried out a so-called just culture test, but the results were warmly kept silent.
Speaking of silence: Neither Ryanair nor Lauda wanted to comment on the Stuttgart incident in any way. However, this is not unusual, as the company traditionally prefers to remain silent on unpleasant topics.
Last week, Lauda CEO was even more talkative about the future of the Ryanair Group in Stuttgart and said at the time that the profitable routes could be served by other bases of the Ryanair Group, such as Malta Air or Ryanair. The group could thus continue to be present at Stuttgart Airport, but no longer with the Austrian subsidiary Lauda, which will be known as Lauda Europe Ltd. from November. will fly under Maltese AOC.