Fresh details have emerged of how Ryanair cabin crew are put under pressure to boost in-flight sales, including the posting of league tables of staff performances at the airline’s bases.
Photographs and documents obtained by the Guardian show how staff at Ryanair’s Barcelona base, one of its key European airports, are judged against strict sales targets and are named if they don’t meet them.
Tactics include displaying league tables of staff who have racked up the highest sales, targets for how much passengers should be spending on specific flights and figures showing how far below that target crew have fallen.
Cabin crew said that if they failed to hit targets they were threatened with disciplinary measures or arbitrary changes to less convenient shift patterns.
Ryanair told the Guardian last month that its recruitment agency WorkForce, which provides cabin crew to the airline, did not set targets for staff deemed to be failing in their salesmanship skills.
But internal documents, coupled with testimony from staff, suggest sales targets are at the heart of cabin crew duties. One document shows “actual spend targets” alongside the sales that the crew member achieved, together with a blank section inviting staff to explain any occasion when they “failed to reach €50 in revenue”.
Another shows a league table of cabin crew’s scratchcard sales, revealing that one staff member sold €1,292 of the cards in September alone, while the leading perfume seller racked up sales of €1,891 in the same month.
Other documents show rankings for junior cabin crew rating their performance based on whether they met overall on-board sales targets. The top seller pulled in €5,443.60 from May to October but still fell 14.55% short of their target. The crew room also features a noticeboard dominated by a note reading: “Minimum spend to achieve in your flights.”
Data on the noticeboard reveals the Ryanair flights to and from Barcelona airport that are the most lucrative, with flights from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, listed as the most likely to yield high sales.
But a crew member who has seen more recent noticeboard posts said the most money-spinning flights were from Birmingham, which has a budget of €4.37 per passenger, and Stansted (€4.33). Based on a typical Ryanair aircraft, a Boeing 737 with a capacity of 189 people, the sales target for these flights is more than €800. Ryanair operates more than 600,000 flights per year.
The crew member, who is employed by Crewlink, another recruitment agency that provides staff for Ryanair, said those who failed to reach targets felt interrogated.
“At the end of the day we go back to the crew room and we get a debriefing from the base supervisor,” said the person, who provided credentials but asked to remain anonymous to protect their job. “If the targets are not achieved (almost always) we are asked why, what happened, how can it be that you didn’t reach the target in two-hour flights, did you pass again with the trolley, did you make good selling announcements?”
The cabin crew member said staff feared demotion or having their shift patterns changed to less favourable hours if they did not meet sales requirements.
The person showed the Guardian a “crew assessment” form used to grade cabin crew on their performance. It features seven grades for compliance with safety routines and 13 for boosting sales, including whether all passengers were offered smokeless cigarettes.
The crew member’s testimony backs up evidence that staff have been warned low sales could result in disciplinary proceedings, including having their hours changed.
The sale of food, drink, perfume and other items such as scratchcards is a major part of Ryanair’s income, providing £1.5bn in “ancillary revenue” last year. That figure made up 27% of the airline’s total revenue, and it said last year that it wanted to raise the proportion to 30%.
Ryanair’s employment practices have come under increasing scrutiny of late amid a row with pilots after mass cancellations caused by the company’s failure to roster its staff properly. Pilots formed an unofficial trade union in a battle with the chief executive, Michael O’Leary over their employment terms.
Ryanair pilots are being investigated by HM Revenue & Customs over complex employment structures imposed on them by the no-frills airline.
Ryanair and Crewlink declined to comment.