Europe’s largest airline is having such trouble finding housing for new hires that it’s getting into the landlording business itself. The Irish carrier recently bought the vast majority of an entire housing development in a prime part of Dublin, and a spokesperson told Fortune it will be rented out to new cabin crew during their first year of working at the company.
Ryanair bought 25 homes in a 28-property development near its Dublin headquarters, the airline said in a statement to Fortune. The recent acquisition brings the airline’s total holdings to 40 homes, according to Business Post, which first reported the purchase.
“In recent years the absence of affordable rental accommodation has been a major impediment to recruiting and training new Irish and European cabin crew members to Ryanair’s inflight team. This accommodation, which is located one bus stop from Dublin Airport, will be rented at affordable rates to Ryanair cabin crew during their first year of employment,” the spokesperson said. The airline has 33 aircraft based in Dublin, it said.
Ireland is gripped by one of the worst housing crises in Europe, with rising rents and spiraling homelessness. Two-thirds of Irish people aged 18 to 34 report living with their parents, according to Eurostat. The average rent in Dublin has doubled in the last decade to about $2,200, or two-thirds of the average monthly income in the city, the New York Times reported. The lack of housing and affordability struggles exploded last month in a series of riots in the capital, with some blaming refugees for the nation’s affordability crisis.
But not everyone is happy at Ryanair’s move—some local politicians blame the company for exacerbating the housing crisis by acting as an investor in property.
“It should not be allowed to happen,” councillor Ann Graves told the Irish Independent. “Here are another 25 families that could have bought a home there,” she said.
Another local politician, councillor Dean Mulligan, compared Ryanair’s move to a “vulture fund” and said it was “a bit of a slap in the face to the local residents” who were waiting to buy homes there.
But Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has defended himself, saying earlier this week the airline has “nothing to apologize for.”
“[O]ur first job here is to look after our passengers and our second job is to look after our staff,” he said, according to The Journal. “And if anybody else wants to whinge about it, then they can buy one of the other 32,555 [properties] that have been built last year.”