Ryanair to cancel more flights as pilot shortage fallout continues

Ryanair is to cancel an extra 18,000 flights in a move that will hit 400,000 customers as the fallout from the airline's mismanagement of pilot leave intensifies.

The Irish carrier said that as part of efforts to end a wave of cancellations that has already seen 2,000 flights grounded, it will fly 25 less aircraft between November and March.

The firm has been forced into the cancellations after miscalculating pilot leave.

Taking more flights out of service means that Ryanair will be able to "roster all of the extra pilot leave necessary" in October, November and December, the budget airline said.

As a result, 34 routes are suspended for the winter season from November to March 2018.

They include several popular routes used by British travellers, including London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas.

The move will add to mounting anger over Ryanair, which has come under heavy fire after recently shelving up to 50 flights every day for six weeks.

Ryanair jet at Dublin Airport
(Niall Carson/PA)

Boss Michael O'Leary has blamed the move on mismanagement of pilots' annual leave, leading to the over-allocation of blocks of holidays.

The flight cancellations has so far cost the airline around 25 million euro.

Ryanair said the latest step will "eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations" and remove the risk of similar problems recurring next year.

The firm also plans to roll out a series of low fare seat sales for winter 2017 as it is "confident that there will be no further roster related cancellations".

It argued less than 1% of the 50 million customers Ryanair will carry this winter are impacted and all affected passengers have received an email alerting them and offering alternative flights or full refunds.

Ryanair signage at Dublin Airport
(Niall Carson/PA)

They have also received a 40 euro travel voucher.

Mr O'Leary said in a statement: "We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week's flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today.

"From today, there will be no more rostering related flight cancellations this winter or in summer 2018.

"Slower growth this winter will create lots of spare aircraft and crews which will allow us to manage the exceptional volumes of annual leave we committed to delivering in the nine months to December 2017. We will start a new 12 month leave period on the 1st of Jan 2018 in full compliance with EU regulations and the IAA's requirements."

The firm also said that it has scrapped plans to bid for bankrupt Italian airline Alitalia in order to "focus on repairing this rostering problem this winter".

"Ryanair will eliminate all management distractions starting with its interest in Alitalia," the group said.

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Ten things we love to hate about low-cost flying
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Ten things we love to hate about low-cost flying
Is it just us, or is there something seriously nut so about the concept of paying for the privilege of paying? It's a crazy, mixed-up world when you have to pay £10 to use a debit card which costs the airline around 20p to process. Of course, you could apply for one of the cards which are 'free' to use, but they change all the time and take hours to apply for. If we thought about it too hard we'd only ever sit at home and cry.

My dear, the garishness! Bright orange, purple, lurid yellow... it's enough to make anyone long for the days of a discreet livery of navy, red and perhaps a touch of silver. If you weren't feeling queasy before you got onboard, the combination of lime green uniforms and a £10 gin and tonic should do the job. Pass the sick bag – oh no, that's right, there aren't any.

It's all very well paying £3.99 for your flight to Stockholm, but you won't be feeling so clever when you land in a field in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lakes and forests, with no capital city in sight. Add on the taxes, extra charges and an hour and a half taxi ride into town and suddenly the national carrier flying to the main airport is looking like a pretty good deal. Especially when you factor in the professional service and free prawn sandwich you would have got...
Ah, the joys of the online no-frills airline booking procedure... First off, you have not got a choice: you can only book via the internet (the chances of finding a real live human to book with are about as high you being able to travel on one of the special offer days). You've then got to navigate the site without accidentally hiring a car, paying for golf clubs or adopting a small child. By the time you remember to print out your boarding pass within the correct time period, you're in serious need of a holiday...

The recent story about a certain airline which gave a man a sandwich and a drink after he suffered a cardiac arrest – and then charged him for it – just about sums up the no-frills airline attitude to catering. It's all about the money, money, money. So, three letters for you: B.Y.O.

Seriously, what is up with people who pay for speedy boarding? You haven't spent enough on extra taxes, credit card charges, baggage fees? Sure, whack on another hefty charge while you're at it, just so you can stand in the front of the queue and feel superior. The plane's not going anywhere until the povs at the back of the queue are on too, so save the twenty quid – you'll need it to pay for your cheese sandwich on board.
No, no, we don't really need to take anything with us on our holiday, honestly. We may be going to Norway for two weeks in January, but a toothbrush, t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops will do us just fine. The book, nappies, wet wipes and baby food ? No problem, they'll slip right into the one bag too, that's fine, don't need them at all, yes stick them in the overhead locker miles away from my seat, too. Marvellous.

Remember in the old days when the seat in front of you had a pocket you could stow your bits and pieces, magazines, bottle of water etc, instead of having to strew them all over the floor? They might be saving space and weight, but when your three-year-old starts projectile vomiting and the seat belt sign's on, suddenly a seat pocket full of sick bags makes a lot of sense. Ah, sweet revenge...

Jeez, there's nothing like 29" legroom pitch and a non-reclining seat back to force you to practice your yoga moves. Like human origami, we fold our limbs into unnatural shapes and wonder why we can't feel our feet by the end of the flight. And we're relatively normal! What it's like for a 6ft 7" man, or a 7 month pregnant woman with a 20 month old on her 'lap' doesn't bear thinking about...

OK, when you're paying more for your beer than your air fare, you can't expect silver service, but would a smile hurt? We feel for the cabin crew dealing with leery stag weekenders and bitter businessmen whose companies won't cough up for a proper airline, but it would be nice to be treated slightly more like a human being, less like a walking wallet from whom to extract as much cash as possible in a two hour period. Scratch card, perfume, magazine, £2.50 bottle of water, anyone?

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