Ryanair announces new cancellations hitting up to 400,000 bookings
Company to slow growth by flying 25 fewer aircraft in winter and 10 fewer in summer
Ryanair said that by slowing its growth it would eliminate ‘all risk of further flight cancellations’. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA
Ryanair is to cancel around 400,000 bookings between November and March of next year as it slows its growth to “eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations”.
The company announced on Wednesday afternoon that it will be pulling 25 aircraft from its schedule over the winter period from November to March and flying 10 fewer aircraft in its fleet from April 2018.
It published a list of cancelled routes with only one Irish airport - Belfast -apparently impacted.
However a passenger who was due to fly home to Dublin from Madrid in January contacted this newspaper to say they had their flight cancelled. While another reader due to fly from London to Barcelona in March has also had their flight cancelled despite the fact that the list published by Ryanair made mo mention of any such cancellations. Both passengers spoke of their difficulties rebooking and the lack of availability of live chat advisors.
When asked why the list published by the airline appeared to be incomplete a spokesman said: “Only the routes listed on our website will be suspended entirely for the winter. Schedule changes have been made on other routes with multiple frequencies, where customers can be easily moved to the next available flight, and all affected customers have been contacted and advised of their options.”
Ryanair said it had “less than 400,000 customers booked on these flights” and added that the move would impact “less than one flight per day across our 200 airports over the five month winter period”. It said “many of these flights [being cancelled] have zero bookings at this time”.
The company said all the affected passengers had received an email giving them between five weeks and five months notice of the schedule changes and offering them alternative flights or full refunds of their airfare.
“We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today,” the airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said.
“While over 99 per cent of our 129 million customers will not have been affected by any cancellations or disruptions, we deeply regret any doubt we caused existing customers last week about Ryanair’s reliability, or the risk of further cancellations.”
He said that from Wednesday “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”.
The company said that by slowing its growth it would eliminate “all risk of further flight cancellations, because slower growth creates lots of spare aircraft and crews across Ryanair’s 86 bases this winter”.
And it added that the moves would enable it to roster all of the extra pilot leave necessary between now and the end of December to meet the IAA’s requirement to complete a nine-month annual leave transition period “so that Ryanair starts a new calendar leave year from January 1st 2018 with no backlog”.
It said it would also be able to roster almost 40 per cent of the annual pilot leave requirement for 2018 in the first three months of the year “which removes risk of roster problems recurring next year”.
And it would allow it to roll out a series of low fare seat sales for this winter “confident that there will be no further roster related cancellations”.
Ryanair has also offered affected passengers a €40 (€80 return) travel voucher that will allow them to book - during October - a flight on any Ryanair service between October and March 2018. The voucher will not be redeemable for flights over Christmas.
In addition, the company said it had emailed each of the 315,000 customers whose flights were previously cancelled over the period to the end of October offering them a €40 travel voucher (€80 return), for travel between October and March 2018.
The voucher is in addition to the flight re-accommodation/refunds they received last week, and is applicable to the EU261 compensation which they may claim and receive over the coming weeks.