Ryanair's “mess-up” is far from over. Because of bad planning of its pilots’ vacations, last week the airline canceled over 2,000 flights, a quarter of which involved a Spanish airport. And on Wednesday, the low-cost airline announced that the cancellations would extend into a serious chunk of next year. In the winter, 34 routes, two of them involving Spain, will be shut down. This will affect nearly 400,000 passengers.
According to a detailed Ryanair press release, the airline will stop operating 25 of its aircraft, out of a current fleet of 400, from November 2017 to March 2018. From April to October next year, it will leave 10 airplanes grounded, out of the 445 that it expects to have in its fleet by that date. There are no flight reservations for those dates as yet, so there was no talk of cancellations past March. The airline maintains that this reduction of aircraft will “eliminate all risks of further flight cancellations,” since there will be “spare pilots and crews.”
Pilots who have not taken vacations yet this year will receive their allotted leave. Then pilots will then start with a clean slate in January. Looking ahead to next year, reorganization will see 40% of pilot vacation taking place in the first quarter of 2018, to avoid a repeat of this year’s chaos.
There will be no flights from Glasgow to Las Palmas or Sofia to Castellón during the winter
Of course, operating fewer aircraft means canceling flights – or “slowing growth,” as Ryanair calls it – between November and March. Although the company did not specify the exact number, it said it would be “less than one a day in our 200 airports.” The airline specified a list of 34 routes that will be canceled during the winter, two of them involving Spanish airports; they are Glasgow to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands, and from the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to Castellón, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
The 400,000 affected travelers join the existing 315,000 passengers that remain grounded due to the cancellations last week. Ryanair said it has already emailed all of them, “offering them alternative flights or refunds” for their tickets. Everyone has been compensated with €40 coupons (€80 for round trips) to be used on a flight between October and March.
CEO Michael O'Leary said there would be no more cancellations related to the pilot vacation “mess-up.”
English version by Debora Almeida.