Ryanair has rejected what it calls false claims that its pilots do not enjoy the benefit of collective bargaining.

Ryanair has traditionally interacted with its pilots through Employee Representative Committees at individual bases.

However, Ryanair pilots have criticised the airline's refusal to negotiate with them either through official trade unions, or through a recently-formed joint body combining all individual ERCs known as the EERC.

In a statement issued this morning, Ryanair said the current efforts of "pilot unions" to interfere in the airline's "long-established collective bargaining" would fail, as they did in 2007 when the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) encouraged pilots to withdraw from the internal process based on collective bargaining with ERCs at individual bases.

The airline reiterated that the Irish Supreme Court had ruled that Ryanair pilots were covered by all of the benefits of collective bargaining through what the company called the "sophisticated" ERC process.

Ryanair said the ERC process has worked successfully for 25 years with the support of the "overwhelming majority" of Ryanair pilots voting regularly in secret ballots on five year deals on pay and conditions.

The airline states that while pilots are free to absent themselves from this collective bargaining process, it cannot be replaced and undermined by third party unions or this "so-called "EERC".

A Ryanair spokesperson said the airline's pilots enjoy all the benefits of collective bargaining which has delivered them industry leading pay, unmatched five-on/four-off rosters (a double bank holiday weekend after every five days of duty).

The spokesperson added that the ERC negotiating process was about to deliver them pay increases of €22,000 per annum for Captains, and €11,000 per annum for First Officer’s, while Monarch, Air Berlin and Alitalia are in bankruptcy.

The company noted that all pilots joining Ryanair are well aware that they do not negotiate with "competitor airline pilot unions", but do engage in sophisticated collective bargaining with their pilots through their base ERC structures.

Ryanair reiterated that they have no intention of entering into correspondence or negotiations with a so-called "EERC" which is just the latest version of previous failed attempts (REPA in 2004 and RPG in 2012) by European pilot unions to disrupt the successful working relationship between Ryanair and its pilots.

The current row between pilots and the airline arose following the cancellation of thousands of flights due to mismanagement of annual leave allocations, which disrupted the travel plans of up to 700,000 passengers.

Just yesterday, Captain Imelda Comer became the first pilot to identify herself when she hand-delivered a letter to CEO Michael O'Leary outlining the pilots' grievances and calling for improved negotiating structures through the joint EERC.

She said that the existing system left pilots at a significant disadvantage in negotiations, and noted that various pay offers currently put on the table at individual bases by Ryanair had not been negotiated with anyone.

Ryanair has given the pilots until later this month to accept the proposals, or face the prospect of receiving no increases for years.