Ryanair cancellations: 315000 customers notified and over half on new flights

He dismissed talk of possible industrial action, including reported plans for a work-to-rule, saying: "There isn't a union".

The airline has been forced to cancel up to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks because of a mix-up in holiday leave for its pilots.

The root cause of the massive flight cancellation was because Ryanair had a change in the system on how they organized their holiday year, which resulted in a pile of pending staff leaves that need to be taken.

The cancellations are estimated to have cost the airline around €25m (£22m).

The announcement comes just hours after a letter was sent to the company by a group of its existing pilots, rejecting an offer of a tax-free £12,000 bonus in exchange for working overtime.

Pilots in Stansted, Frankfurt and Berlin will also be offered the same amount - as the company says traditionally they don't want to base themselves in these locations.

Separately, the United Kingdom pilots association Balpa issued a statement today saying Ryanair should do more to encourage pilots to stay with the airline, following news of its pilot holiday chaos. The reason for the planned cancellations was put down to the company not having enough pilots, as many had booked holidays for the autumn and early winter.

"We sincerely apologize to every one of the 315,000 customers whose initial flights were cancelled for a period of 6 weeks in September and October", said Kenye Jacobs, marketing director of the airline.

Ryanair's O'Leary has told shareholders that 75% of passengers with cancelled flights have been rebooked and refunded. "If Norwegian Air are holding open days, there's nothing we can do, despite the fact that we have very good terms and conditions".

A source told Reuters that a letter had been approved by pilots at 17 of 85 Ryanair bases demanding new permanent, contracts under local labour law, though this could not be independently verified by Reuters.

The airline expects to have refunded or processed alternative routes for 95% of affected customers by the end of this week.

  • Eleanor Harrison