Employment Relations in Southwest Airline and Ryanair

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Employment relations refers to the legal link that involves obligations and rights between employees and employers. The relationship occurs when a person performs work or service under certain conditions after which they receive payment. Through the relations, the employees continue to gain access to profits and rights linked with work in the field of social safety and labor law. Every organization has the duty of managing the relations between employers and employees. An organization with good employee relationship program gives fair and regular treatment to all workers so they may be devoted to the business and committed to their work. Programs are set as portion of human resource strategy which is planned to ensure that individuals are used in the most effective way to achieve the company’s mission. Organizations use human resource strategies to maintain and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The relations programs emphasis on matters affecting employees which include safe working conditions, work-life balance, payment, and benefits (Fusco, 2013, p.92). A good employment relation program should have elements that describe an organization’s procedures, rules, and philosophy that address matters of employment and resolves difficulties in the workplace. Most organizations have employee relations representatives who work in the department of human resource to ensure that the business policies are followed consistently and fairly. The representatives also work with supervisors and employees to address concerns and resolve problems.

Southwest Airline is one of the company’s that has good employment relations which has helped in maintaining its competitive edge. The airline places employees first, customers second, and stockholders third. The rationale of the arrangement is simply because when employees are treated right they will treat customers’ right. Notably, when the customers are treated right they will feel good and prefer the airline services over others which will benefit the stockholders. The airline has achieved a successful track record wherein 2009 it was rated as the world’s largest airline in regard to the number of passengers carried in every year (Augustine, 2013, p.36). Employees are inspired to have employers who set good examples in relations. A good working behavior towards an employee to be it a line manager or a subordinate echoes the message of better productivity in the workplace. The establishment of a work culture that encourages healthy working relations results in good competition and spirit of creativeness. The organization recognizes every individual effort that workers contribute which result in collective work effort since everyone has their own input and the results are better when performed together. The airline has emphasized on creating a working environment that has less relationship stress without high demand from coworkers or cranky boss.

The airline also enjoys the strength which is associated with good employee relations which provide strength and long-term competitive advantage. Employees perform duties such as on-time performance, assuring safe, directing airplanes in and out of the gate, as well as loading cargo and bags. The employees help the organization to have an advantage by offering differentiated products which are charged at higher prices due to their greater value or by giving similar value to their competitors but at a lower price. The strategy enables the organization to sustain profits that surpass that of an average company making it be at a competitive edge. A good employment relations support a business to deliberately choose institutional structures and strategies that they believe will best facilitate the achievement of their objectives (Hartley, 2015, p.89). Also, the strategic relations are involved in order to focus on choices that advance collective and individual objectives of organizations as well as employees. The airline organization also has unions, workers, and management who listen to the voice of each other drawing its strength for common goals and interests.

Ryanair is another organization that has used various strategies to remain top in the transport industry. The organization has had some unusual employment practices in recent days. The business is mostly known for only hiring cabin crew under five feet three inch which is considered suitable. The airline has been reported by the British Airline Pilots’ Association as the biggest Europe engaging pilots in non-standard contracts. Also, the airline has experienced labor disputes among its employees due to its refusal to respond to demands for improved employment terms. The management has faced criticism on the overall handling of employment matters. Ryanair has also been accused of not recognizing trade unions which protect employees’ interests and encourages dialogue as the best way to resolve issues (Thomas, 2015, p.3). The trade unions are known to help employees protect themselves from exploitation through the use of collective voice. The unions also act as representatives of employees in times of legal issues and are against unjustly removed from work.

The issues of employee relations have affected the airline performance and reputation in a great way. For example, when the airline abruptly canceled a number of flights after some substandard pilot rostering. Other issues such as lack of clarity in employment model with most of the pilots employed as contractors, lack of transparent base transfer system, the absence of fair and transparent annual leave system, and individual tax disputes have been stated. Due to the strained employment relations, the company has faced a lot of problems (Stackel, 2014, p.165). The environment of the business has been surcharged with employment unrest that is likely to lead to lockouts or strikes. Also, companies that ignore the importance of employee relations may experience high cost of production, absenteeism among the workers, negligence in the execution of work, and low-grade production.

The comparison and contrast of Southwest airline and Ryanair operation strategies toward Unions can be done through exploring the nature of both organizations, impact of performance, and fundamental operations issues. In the airline industry, there are various challenges involved especially in matters of reduced cost competition and its implication for the occupation relations. The South West airline is characterized by partnership and commitment with unions, unlike the Ryanair which is described by avoidance and control of the unions. The assumption is that reduced cost business strategies are reliable to a low obligation to management of human resource but the reality is that low-cost business approaches can also be carried through a high obligation to human resource supervision. Ryanair focuses on selling lowest airfares and they brutally charge more for any additional service. Through the creation of additional service charges the organization is certain to trip up even the most weathered flyers (Harvey and Turnbull, 2014, p.330). Contrary, Southwest airline does not stress on deliberately leading its customers on the path of additional charges. The airline even provide customers with even free flight changes since they understand that things are not always certain.

Notably, cost per available seat mile is amongst the vital numbers in airline lingo which measures the total fee to operate a plane for each seat in every flown mile. The prices of operation may comprise airport fees, landing fees, aircraft maintenance, fuel, and salaries. Comparing the two airlines, Ryanair operating costs are about fifty-five percent less than that of Southwest. Ryanair uses secondary airports that are smaller instead of using competitive international airports which allow for lower taxes and fees (Geare and Edgar, 2016, p.67). The airline also is known to receive non-taxable subsidies from regional governments. On the other hand, Southwest Airline does not have illegal deals or abuse of taxpayers’ money. The airline flies to secondary airports which are characterized by high costs and relies very little on airport subsidies.

In conclusion, the strategy which is more appropriate in today’s business environment is to recognize that the most expensive and important resource is the human resource. Every organization should focus on nurturing this precious resource through ensuring that employee productivity is not hindered by harassment, disciplinary issues, unnecessary conflict, or poor management. A business should strategize on employee recognition, relations programs, and proper management of absenteeism and termination. In the United States of America, labor relations environment has been identified as a party that involves employees, employers, and the state as the actors. The system of labor relations incorporates both societal techniques and values. In Ireland, the labor laws support employment relationship with security net of obligations and rights. The law is not made to impose employment conditions but instead, it ensures that individuals have occupational health and safety, employment equality, as well as offering protection from unfair dismissal. Employees enter trade unions that have a collective agreement with terms and conditions of work practices and rules that apply to all members of the union.


Augustine, A. (2013). Worldds Largest Airlines? Proposed Merger of US Airways – American

Airlines. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Fusco, M. (2013). Employment relations programs. Employment Relations Today, 16(1), pp.89- 92.

Geare, A. and Edgar, F. (2016). Employment relations. Dunedin, N.Z.: Otago University Press.

Hartley, J. (2015). Employment relations. London: University of London External Publications.

Harvey, G. and Turnbull, P. (2014). Employment Relations, Management Style and Flight Crew Attitudes at Low Cost Airline Subsidiaries:. European Management Journal, 24(5), pp.330-337.

Stackel, L. (2014). Employment relations programs. Employment Relations Today, 15(2), pp.163-165.

Thomas, M. (2015). Ryanair: success before love. Strategic Direction, 31(8), pp.1-3.

January 19, 2024

Business Economics

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