Ryanair customers are facing further travel woe as the airline cancels an extra 18,000 flights, with 40,000 people set to be affected, as it takes further steps to resolve its pilot leave crisis.
The budget airline has announced it will fly 25 fewer aircraft between November and March, meaning that 34 routes are suspended for the winter season.
Ryanair has already grounded 2,000 flights up until the end of October, since the crisis over pilots’ holiday came to light.
The airline justified its latest decision by saying that by taking more flights out of service meant they will be able to “roster all of the extra pilot leave necessary” in October, November and December.
The airline said the move will “eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations, because slower growth creates lots of spare aircraft and crews across Ryanair’s 86 bases this winter”.
The latest cancellations are expected to affect an average of less than one flight per day across Ryanair’s five-month winter schedule, according to the airline.
It went on to state that customers affected have received an email today (27 September) giving them between five weeks to five months notice of these schedule changes, and offering them alternative flights or full refunds of their airfare.
Customers have also received a €40 (€80 return) travel voucher which will allow them to book – during October – a flight on any Ryanair service between October 2017 and March 2018.
The cost of these vouchers for affected customers is expected to total nearly €25m.
The decision to cancel a further 18,000 flights will impact upon Ryanair’s growth plan for the winter months, and that a slower rate of growth will slightly reduce its traffic this year and next.
In a statement Ryanair said: “Our monthly growth from November 17 to March 2018 will slow from 9% to 4%. Our full year traffic of 131 million will now moderate to 129 million, which is 7.5% up on last year.
“By slowing our summer 2018 fleet growth from 445 to 435 aircraft, we expect traffic to March 2019 will slow from 142 million to 138 million, a 7% rate of growth.”
Despite today’s announcement it added that it does not expect alteration to its current year guidance of between €1.40 billion to €1.45 billion in profits after tax.
Alitalia interest ended
To help allow it to “eliminate all management distractions” the airline has also ended its interest in purchasing Italy’s Alitalia.
Ryanair said: “We have notified the Alitalia bankruptcy Commissioners that we will not be pursuing our interest in Alitalia or submitting any further offers for the airline.”
As a result of a recent meeting with pilot representatives new pay increases are to come into effect from the start of October.
Ryanair is implementing a €10,000 supplement for captains and €5,000 for captains at its Dublin, Stansted, Berlin, and Frankfurt bases.
Further meetings are planned with pilot representatives at other bases to discuss the issue of pay, over the coming months.
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Budget airline Ryanair is under mounting pressure after cancelling more than 160 flights, and leaving up to 40,000 passengers stranded.