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Ryanair Announces Plan to Cancel Thousands of Flights in a Bid to “Improve Punctuality”

Ryanair Announces Plan to Cancel Thousands of Flights in a Bid to “Improve Punctuality”

Ryanair Announces Plan to Cancel Thousands of Flights in a Bid to "Improve Punctuality"

In a rather unusual move, Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline and the biggest carrier for passenger numbers has announced plans to cancel thousands of flights over the next six weeks.  The airline said that until the end of October, approximately 40-50 flights every day were set to be axed.

In a statement, Ryanair said the move was actually an attempt to improve overall punctuality, citing air traffic control strikes in several European countries as the root cause of its woes.  The airline claimed its punctuality had consistently fallen from an average of 90% to below 80% in the last two weeks.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said bad weather throughout Europe and capacity restrictions hadn’t helped matters.  New rules being imposed by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) for the allocation of cabin crew and pilot holiday leave has also contributed to the problems.

Ryanair currently operates its annual leave year in line with the financial year from April to March – but the IAA has ordered the airline to switch its annual leave calendar from January to December.  Ryanair must comply with the order by the start of 2018.

Unfortunately for Ryanair, things haven’t been going to plan – this year, the airline has been operating at record capacity, with cabin crew and pilots working at capacity as well.  Add in the ATC and weather problems and suddenly Ryanair has found itself with a backlog of annual leave that it needs to allocate by the end of December.

Ryanair accused of working its cabin crew too hard

Sources have also told us that to cope with demand, Ryanair has breached strict rules laid down by the European Aviation Safety Agency or EASA.  Those rules should prevent cabin crew from working too many hours in any given year – the idea is to prevent fatigue which can be a serious safety risk.

Ryanair has now decided that the only way to allocate annual leave and to keep their cabin crew ‘within hours’ is to cancel a percentage of its flights.  On this part, Ryanair stresses that the cancellations will only amount to about 2% of its 2,500 daily flights.

“By cancelling less than 2% of our flying programme over the next six weeks, (until our winter schedule starts in early November) we can improve the operational resilience of our schedules and restore punctuality to our annualised target of 90%,” explained Robin Kiely, a spokesman for Ryanair.

What flights are to be cancelled haven’t yet been announced

He continued: “We apologise sincerely to the small number of customers affected by these cancellations, and will be doing our utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds for them.”

It’s not yet clear what flights or in which countries will be most affected.

Yesterday, Ryanair lost an important court case over the work contracts that its cabin crew are employed under.  The case was brought to the European Court of Justice by a group of Belgian workers who want a local court to decide on a dispute over their work conditions.  At present, all Ryanair cabin crew are employed under Irish employment contracts.

The airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary has also said his airline is preparing to submit a binding offer for bankrupt Italian airline, Alitalia.  However, O’Leary will only be willing to take on the carrier if staff are employed under significantly different contracts than present.

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