Ryanair has said it will need to make job cuts this winter after reporting a 21 per cent drop in profits for the first quarter, blaming problems with the Boeing 737 Max, low fares and Brexit uncertainty.

In a video message to staff, group CEO Michael O’Leary said the airline has 500 more pilots and 400 more cabin crew than it needs “because resignations have dried up to effectively zero since January of 2019”. He also claimed it will need 600 less pilots and cabin crew due to a shortfall of deliveries of the troubled Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

O’Leary informed staff that all of these issues combined means the carrier will potentially need to make base cuts, base closures and job cuts.

The news comes after Ryanair agreed pay increases for both pilots and crew with unions across Europe – something O’Leary said has led to higher staff costs which cut into the airline’s profits. Pilots in the UK are currently being balloted on potential strike action over “outstanding areas of concern” on pensions and other conditions.

Ryanair had already warned that it may need to cut flights or close bases due to the problems with the 737 Max, but O’Leary told staff the carrier would have to cut its aircraft and staffing numbers for the winter 2019 season.

O’Leary pointed to “the increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit in just 12 weeks’ time” as another cause for concern, saying the company believes such a scenario would have a damaging effect, particularly on its UK and Ireland bases.

The airline is in talks with its airport partners and unions and would announce final plans for job cuts by the end of August. The losses will occur at the end of September and again immediately after Christmas.

O’Leary added: “Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be doing our very best to minimise job losses, but some are simply unavoidable at this time.

“I’m sorry, and I apologise sincerely to all of you for this bad news and any uncertainty it’ll cause you over the coming weeks, but it’s being driven by the Max delivery delays and the threat of a no-deal Brexit, which are clearly huge and very uncertain challenges, which we will try to cope with as best we can while preserving as many jobs as we can.”

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