Ryanair Cuts Hundreds Of Flights After Messing Up Pilot Vacations

Ryanair has cancelled thousands of flights over six weeks, including 82 on Sunday, after admitting it has “messed up” the planning of holidays for its pilots. It says that 40-50 flights will be cancelled every day for the next six weeks, which could amount to the cancellation of over 2000 flights.

“We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working to fix that,” Ryanair Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs said. Jacobs has also said that the airline is working to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again.

The cancellations are due in large part to a backlog of staff leave, which has seen large numbers of staff schedule their holidays for the end of the year. That is coupled with a change of Ryanair’s holiday year. Ryanair currently runs its holiday year from April to March, but it’s changing the schedule to run from January to December instead due to EU regulation. This means that Ryanair had to allocate annual leave to pilots in September and October.

Ryanair said its planned cancellations are due to a mixup with pilot schedules. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

In a statement issued on Friday evening, Ryanair says that it needs to cancel the flights to improve its current punctuality “[Our] system-wide punctuality has fallen below 80% in the first two weeks of September through a combination of air traffic control capacity delays and strikes, weather disruptions, and the impact of increased holiday allocations to pilots and cabin crew as the airline moves to allocate annual leave during a 9 month transition period (April to December 2017) to move the airline’s holiday year, which is currently April to March, to a calendar year from January 1st, 2018 onwards,” the statement read.

Between 285,000 and 400,000 passengers could be affected. These passengers will be offered alternative flights or refunds.

“We advise customers to check the email address used to make their booking,” Jacobs said, as affected passengers should have been sent an email. “Flights are operating as scheduled unless an email confirming a cancellation has been received. Cancellation notices for flights cancelled up to and including Wednesday 20 September have been sent to affected customers and posted on the Ryanair.com website. We will continue to send regular updates and post flight information on our website with the next set of cancellations to be issued on Monday. We apologise sincerely to all affected customers for these cancellations.”

Though Ryanair has promised to send emails or texts to affected passengers, some say that the weren’t notified of cancellations. One passenger in Italy discovered that her flight had been cancelled while trying to check in.

At the time of writing, 56 flights are cancelled on Monday, September 18; 55 flights are cancelled on Tuesday, September 19; and 54 are cancelled on Wednesday, September 20. Click here to see a list of all flights cancelled through Wednesday.

Ryanair says that less than 2% of all its flight will be cancelled, and it expects to hit its annual punctuality target of 90% because of the cancellations.

Ryanair 737-800s. The airline cancelled hundreds of flights over the weekend and has cancelled over 150 through Wednesday. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

“We will cancel 40 to 50 flights daily, less than 2 percent of our schedule, with a slightly higher number initially, as we begin to implement these cancellations,” said Jacobs.

Consumer watchdogs have urged Ryanair to release a full list of cancelled flights over six weeks, not just over the next three days. “It is essential Ryanair release full list of flights affected so passengers have time to make arrangements,” said Which?, one of the watchdogs in question.

“In the event of any disruption or cancellation airlines must ensure customers are fully compensated and every effort is made to provide alternative travel arrangements,” UK Aviation Minister Lord Callanan. “I am very concerned to see all of these reports of stranded Ryanair passengers. We expect all airlines to fulfil their obligations to their customers and do everything possible to notify them well in advance of any disruption to their journey.”

Ryanair is allowing affected customers to apply for a full refund or change their flights for free. EU law requires that refunds are processed within seven days of the cancelled flights. EU regulation also requires Ryanair to provide meals and room-and-board accommodation in addition to a cash compensation for flights over 1,000 miles (1600km)

Passengers boarding a Ryanair 737. Estimates predict that as many as 400,000 customers could be affected by cancellations. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

“The rules say if the airline doesn’t have a suitable alternative flight, you have to be booked on a rival airline,” said travel editor Simon Calder. “It’s a really odd thing in terms of customer car, to say we want to improve the operation by keeping more planes on the ground.”

Services cancelled include, but aren’t necessarily limited to, flights to and from Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Dublin, Hamburg, Krakow, Riga, Rome, Bari, Luton, Faro, Ancona, Basel, Cologne, Madrid, Strasbourg, and Toulouse. Stansted, which is Ryanair’s base, is currently the most affected site.

Many people have taken to Twitter to express their concerns and displeasures with cancellations.

So, if your flight was cancelled, what are your rights? Compensation rules for cancelled flights in the EU are as follows:

  1. Passengers are entitled to assistance and compensation if the disruption was within an airline’s control
  2. Airlines have to offer full refunds paid within seven days or rebookings for a flight cancelled at short notice
  3. Passengers can claim compensation: cancellation amounts are €250/£218 for short haul flights of up to 1,500km; €440/£384 for medium-range flights between 1,500km and 3,500km; and €600/£523 for long-haul flights of over 3,500km. Passengers who reach their destination more than three hours late can be compensated from €200-€600 depending on the length of the flight and delay.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons