Ryanair Q&A: What you need to know about the new cancellations

What is the airline up to now and what rights to passengers with cancelled flights have?

Why have Ryanais cancelled more flights? File photograph: Alan Betson

Why have Ryanais cancelled more flights? File photograph: Alan Betson


What is Ryanair up to now?

Well, in its own words, it plans “to grow more slowly this winter, by flying fewer of our 400 aircraft between November and March 2018”.

Grow more slowly? That doesn’t sound too bad?

Well, another way of putting it is that the airline plans to cancel around 400,000 bookings between now and the end of March.

Oh, that doesn’t sound too good. Is that on top of the cancellations announced last week?

It is.

But I thought Michael O’Leary said last week that there would be no more cancellations?

He did. Sort of. When asked last week if any more cancellations were coming the Ryanair boss said: “No - this is a blunt measure, cancelling 2 per cent of flights over a six week period. But we believe it will address the issue. I can’t ever give you guarantees there won’t be cancellations or there won’t be disruption. I can certainly give you guarantees that I don’t think they would be because of rostering mess up foul up. There will not be a management screw up over the next number of weeks. But I can’t give anybody any guarantees. We will fight to win back your business and your faith in our rosters.”

So, days later, 400,000 more bookings are cancelled?

Yes, but this has been described by O’Leary not as a “management screw-up” but “sensible schedule changes”.

Will that make a difference to the people whose plans are disrupted?

No, probably not.

Why is Ryanair “going to grow more slowly” or cancelling all these flights?

Well it has “messed-up” its rostering system and needed to give pilots “lots of holidays over the next four months”. The roster issues arose due to a change in the way the airline records flight hours. Under EU rules, pilots can only fly 900 hours a year, and 100 hours in any month. For a 10-year stretch the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) recorded flight hours for a 12-month period starting in April, while other EU countries recorded flight hours from January. The IAA said Ryanair now has to fall into step with the EU, so many Ryanair pilots reached their annual number of flight hours in September.

Is Ryanair short of pilots?

There certainly has been speculation on that front and lots of it. Today the airline denied it. It said it “currently employs over 4,200 pilots a ratio of over 10 pilots per aircraft. Only 4 pilots are needed per aircraft per day”. It also says it has 2,500 pilots on a waiting list hoping to join it.

What will be achieved by doing this?

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”.

Do we know whose flights have been cancelled?

On Thursday, Ryanair announced the cancellation of 462 flights from Dublin Airport over the winter period. The airline will cancel 22 flights a week from November 1st until March 24th, a period of 21 weeks. Some 85,000 passengers will be affected by the changes. The routes affected will be Dublin to Birmingham, Paris Beauvais, Barcelona, Bucharest, Madrid, Warsaw, Modlin and Krakow.

All those affected should have received an email notice from Ryanair telling them of any flight changes, and offering alternative flights or a full refund. On Wednesday, the airline published a list of the routes it is scrapping. Only one Irish route appears to have been affected in that announcement - the London Gatwick to Belfast airport route.

What rights do I have if my flight has been cancelled?

If Ryanair cancels your flight it must offer you the choice of an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or at a later date of your choice, subject to the availability of seats, or a full refund of the ticket.

What about compensation?

Passengers caught up in the latest round of cancellations will not be entitled to any compensation as they have been given more than two weeks notice. Ryanair has 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.

A voucher? My flight was cancelled last week? Do I get a voucher?

Yes, it has emailed each of the 315,000 customers whose flights were previously cancelled over the period to the end of October offering them the same €40 travel voucher (€80 return), for travel between October and March 2018.

That 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.

Will that be the end of it?

O’ Leary said that from today “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”.