Europe's biggest airline is trying to avert holiday strikes by offering to recognize pilot unions for the first time.
"Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action", Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said in a statement.
The Irish carrier said it would hold talks with unions in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal to recognize them as long as they established a committee made up exclusively of Ryanair pilots, "as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere".
Ryanair was forced to announce roughly 20,000 flight cancellations earlier this year after it mismanaged pilot schedules.
In a major policy reversal, Ryanair said it was willing to open talks with pilot unions in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The CEO had pledged higher pay and bonuses to keep flight-deck crews from bolting to rivals and also threatened them with retaliatory measures if they went on strike.
In turn, it said that it was calling on these pilot unions to call off the threatened industrial action planned for Wednesday, 20 December.
The news means that Ryanair will now change its long standing policy of not recognising unions in order to avoid any threat of disruption to its customers and its flights from pilot unions during Christmas week.
Ryanair shares fell 5.5 percent, the most since July, to 15.50 euros at 12:03 a.m.in Dublin, giving a market value of 18 billion euros ($21 billion).
An Anpac source said it had received a letter from Ryanair and that talks between the company and the union to establish a national contract would begin soon.
"Recognising unions will be a significant change for Ryanair, but we have delivered radical change before", O'Leary said in a statement.
The company's decision to work with unions follows a ruling in September by the European Union's top court that the airline could face employee lawsuits wherever cabin crew are based.
Ryanair's move Friday on unions could also reduce employment flexibility, wrote Sanford C. Bernstein analysts including Daniel Roeska. "In the longer term, the consequences could be profound".