Budget airline has had to cancel more than 2,000 flights in the weeks leading up to October 31 and chief executive Michael O’Leary has admitted the company ‘messed up’ the initial announcement. Tony McDonough reports
Crisis-hit budget airline Ryanair is offering pilots bonuses of more than £10,000 as it looks to avoid cancelling even more flights.
The carrier is cancelling more than 2,000 flights in the weeks leading up to October 31 blaming a shortage of pilots on the transition to a new system for allocating leave to pilots.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary said the new system had failed to warn the airline it didn’t have enough pilots on standby for events such as bad weather and air traffic control strikes.
He told the Financial Times the number of standby pilots had fallen to 20-30 a day in September from the usual 200.
Now Ryanair has written to pilots offering a bonus of 12,000 euros to captains and 6,000 euros to first officers who agree to work for additional 10 days.
The letter, from chief operations officer Michael Hickey, said: “To avoid further cancellations, we are requesting between 1 and 2 blocks of 5 days from every pilot who has already been assigned their Monday off.”
None of the cancelled flights over the next few weeks are due to take-off or land at Liverpool John Lennon Airport but 36 of them will depart from or arrive at Manchester Airport.
The letter also said Ryanair will increase the payments that pilots receive when they spend a night away from their home base to 75 euros from 28 euros.
Mr O’Leary has also admitted the airline handled the initial announcement last Friday poorly, saying: “By not having the actual list of cancellations on Friday we managed to upset/worry about 80m passengers. We caused a storm of worry and concern.
“That’s where we did really mess up.”
Ryanair said this week it was expecting to pay up to 20m euros in compensation to passengers affected by the cancellations as well as losing 5m euros in lost fares.
However, the Dublin-based company has been taken aback by the social media storm that has erupted in the last few days and some analysts believe there could be damaging long-term reputational damage to its brand.