Ryanair cancels up to 50 flights daily over crew leave backlog
Cancellations to last six weeks as airline works to improve ‘system-wide punctuality’
Among Ryanair’s cancellations yesterday and today were 17 flights in and out of Dublin Airport. Photograph: Andreas Arnold/AFP/Getty Images
A backlog of crew leave at Ryanair has led to the unexpected cancellation of between 40 and 50 flights per day for the next six weeks.
Thousands of passengers across Europe were left stranded on Friday as the Irish low-cost carrier grounded 82 flights, blaming the move on a need for its staff to catch up on holiday entitlement. A further 80 flights are to be cancelled on Saturday.
Following initial confusion among passengers on Friday, a Ryanair statement said its decision resulted from a need to “improve its system-wide punctuality which has fallen below 80 per cent in the first two weeks of September”.
It put this down to a combination of air traffic control delays and strikes, weather disruption and the impact of increased holiday allocations to pilots and cabin crew following a change to its roster in line with Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) regulations.
Backlog of leave
Ryanair said it now had a “backlog of crew leave” which must be allocated before the end of December, due to the IAA-imposed changes. These changes are in line with European law and means it must bring staff holidays, previously running from an April to March, in line with the calendar year
In a letter to pilots on Wednesday, seen by The Irish Times, the airline said the change in holiday patterns had “posed significant challenges”.
It said the “crewing forecast” to the end of the year is for “tighter pilot numbers” as the impact of the need to give time off, together with other issues, “decreases pilot availability significantly month on month”.
A Ryanair spokesman apologised for the cancellations, which he said amounted to 2 per cent of its flights.
On social media, passengers expressed frustration at a lack of response from Ryanair as to specific flight cancellations.
Alex Currie (26) who had been holidaying in Italy with his grandmother Mary said they found themselves with no way home this weekend. “It’s a bit of a joke the way this has been handled,” he said.
Among the cancellations on Friday and Saturday were 17 flights in and out of Dublin Airport. However, confusion remains as to what specific flights might be affected in the coming weeks.