Ryanair has announced the cancellation of up to 2,000 flights this week. The decision affects up to 285,000 passengers.
The budget airline is set to cancel approximately 55 flights each day this week to solve a backlog of annual leave entitlement for Ryanair staff, including pilots, despite earlier claiming the disruption was to “improve punctuality”.
Twitter user Irene told EN’s sister title Conference News that she is due to travel to a conference in Prague on Thursday, but is unsure whether her outgoing and incoming flights will be affected.
Ryanair marketing officer Kenny Jacobs told the press that affected customers with bookings up to 20 September had been informed.
Talking to the BBC, Jacobs said: “We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that. Most of the cancellations are due to a backlog of staff leave which has seen large numbers of the airline’s staff book holidays towards the end of the year.”
The airline is changing its holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to run from January to December instead.
Rynanair said the shift meant it had to allocate annual leave to pilots in September and October.
However, Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said on the airline’s website that the cancellations were aimed to “improve punctuality”.
He said: “We have operated a record schedule (and traffic numbers) during the peak summer months but must now allocate annual leave to pilots and cabin crew in September and October. This increased leave at a time of ATC capacity delays and strikes, has severely reduced our on-time performance over the past two weeks to under 80 per cent.
“By cancelling less than two per cent of our flying programme over the next six weeks, (until our winter schedule starts in early November) we can improve the operational resilience of our schedules and restore punctuality to our annualised target of 90 per cent.
“We apologise sincerely to the small number of customers affected by these cancellations, and will be doing our utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds for them.”
Th airline has released the full list of cancellations on its website.