Europe’s biggest airline cancels another 18,000 flights because it screwed up staff vacations

A schedule in a tail spin.
A schedule in a tail spin.
Image: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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The nightmare for Europe’s biggest budget airline, Ryanair, and its passengers just got worse. It just cancelled another 18,000 flights, on top of the 2,000 announced last week.

Only a week ago, the carrier released a list of the 2,024 flights it had cancelled because it didn’t properly schedule time off for its pilots. A recent change to the way it organizes vacations left the airline with a backlog of staff who needed to take a holiday, leading to a shortage of pilots. It equated to a cancelation of 40 to 50 flights every day for the next six weeks.

The initial round of cancellations was set to affect 400,000 customers and mainly routes through Brussels, Barcelona, Milan, and Rome. Now Ryanair says it has to cancel more flights—all the way until March 2018. It will be flying 25 fewer planes during the winter season and the changes will affect 34 routes, including popular ones such as those from London to Belfast, to Edinburgh, and to Glasgow, and from Hamburg to Oslo. From April next year, the airline will permanently operate 10 fewer aircraft.

The Dublin-based carrier said the move 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”.

“While over 99% of our 129m 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,” said Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair in a statement.

Ryanair customers can find out which flights are affected and about compensation or re-scheduling arrangements on the company’s website.