Ryanair to take back one week of pilot holidays, says O’Leary

Airline holding AGM in Dublin HQ as pilots reject bonus offer

Ryanair is to offer pilots in Dublin and other bases an extra €10,000 a-year to deter them from joining rival airlines, chief executive Michael O’Leary has said at a press briefing following the company's agm.

 

Ryanair is planning to take back one week of its pilots’ holidays to prevent any further flight cancellations, the airline’s chief executive has said.

Michael O’Leary said pilots due to take a four-week block of holidays in the next few months because a change in annual leave rotas will be told to reduce that to three weeks.

He said they will get the other week back in January. At a meeting with shareholders at the airline’s AGM in Dublin, Mr O’Leary said the airline does not need the agreement of pilots to take back a week of their leave.

He told shareholders six weeks of cancellations, which he previously admitted was a “mess”’, has cost the airline about €25 million. Mr O’Leary again apologised for the disruption, which he said was down to mismanagement of the pilots’ rostering system.

He refused to discuss media reports that many pilots had turned down offers of a €12,000 bonus and instead demanded improved contracts.

Ryanair is facing a multi-million compensation bill for cancelled flights after it revealed it was shelving up to 50 flights every day over the next six weeks.

Replying to reports that pilots were roundly rejecting the cash bonus offer, a spokesman for Ryanair said: “We will address this at the AGM today.”

The Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa) claimed that 140 Ryanair pilots left for Norwegian Air in recent weeks and months.

It also said other pools of pilots are on standby to move across Europe after accepting jobs with other airlines and waiting for start dates before handing in their notices.

The bill for the compensation for passengers left stranded and forced to re-book could reach €20 million.

But passengers have been reporting problems with the process of refunds and compensation for cancelled flights, saying information supplied by the airline is incorrect and calls are going unanswered.

Angry customers inundated Ryanair’s Facebook page and many are also complaining their calls and messages through the airline’s call centre and online “chat” service are going unanswered or being cut off.

The airline said it was aware of the issue and any customers who were double-charged for seats or hold luggage will be refunded.

While the AGM was planned to go through run of the mill corporate governance on accounts, executive pay, election of directors and share purchases, the meeting is also expected to feature questions over the handling of the crisis.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary, and a large number of media representatives, are in attendance. He has accepted the debacle had a “large reputational impact” on the airline and apologised.

Ryanair said all 315,000 customers affected by the cancellations received an email on Monday advising them of their flight changes and offering alternative flights, refunds and EU261 notices.

The airline said it expected to have re-accommodated more than 175,000 customers on other Ryanair flights and to have processed refunds for more than 20 per cent of those affected by close of business on Wednesday.

PA

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