Ryanair aircraft on airport ramp. Photo: Ryanair.

LONDON — Mainstream media across Europe have been reporting on the mass influx of cancellations by Ryanair’s operations team after a blunder with crew holidays. Because they have “messed up” the planning of pilot holidays, the carrier is canceling 40-50 flights per day for the next six weeks, which will affect a total of 315,000 customers, who have received email notices on Monday 18th advising them of such flight changes and their rights as passengers. Already, 63,000 refunds have been offered to customers, which only counts as 20% of the total affected customers.

Ryanair aims to refund or reallocate all 315,000 passengers six days after being notified of such changes. Ryanair has since offered captains one-off payments of 12,000 euros and 6,000 euros to first officers to delay their annual leaves until later on next year. This has been met with opposition by pilot representatives as they seek to lobby better working conditions and better work contracts. Across Europe, many different staff representatives from the different European countries are looking to use their voice that they have used over the past couple of days with the use of “revolt”.

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said:

“We apologize sincerely to each and every one of the 315,000 customers whose original flights were canceled over a 6 week period in September and October, while we work to resolve this short-term rostering failure. We have taken on extra customer service teams to speed up the rate at which we accommodate and action alternative flight requests or refund applications. We expect to have the vast majority of these completed by the end of this week. The vast majority of these requests are being dealt with online, but as our call centres and chat lines are extremely busy, we ask affected customers to bear with us as we do everything we can to respond to their requests and try to resolve any problems we have created for them, for which we again sincerely apologise.”

In order to win over pilots, O’Leary had said that the carrier has “some goodies” to offer their pilots if they are to work extra days but it also came with a threat of pilot misbehavior resulting in the end of such “goodies”. O’Leary also went on the aggressive path and accused the pilot unions of trying to give the airline “a bloody nose” and argued that staff did not require union representation before dismissing talk of possible strikes by pilots.

As someone like Michael O’Leary has been reputable for his tough stance on pilots and crew, is this the final straw? Unhappy customers and increased pilot costs as a potential cost. Will this result in the resignation of Europe’s biggest carrier’s CEO? The same thing happened with former British Airways CEO and current IAG owner Willie Walsh as he had to step down due to staff discontent. However, shareholders of the Irish carrier are saying that the management failure that O’Leary has acknowledged is not good enough to remove him. There will only be so much that shareholders can take of this disruption before their profits dip, meaning that the pressure is on O’Leary to minimise as much damage as possible.