Pas­sen­gers con­fused by Ryanair move:

In­dus­try sources have claimed bud­get air­line has a short­age of pi­lots

The Irish Times - - Front Page - MARK HIL­LIARD

Ryanair’s sur­prise move to can­cel hun­dreds of flights over the next six weeks has cre­ated con­fu­sion among pas­sen­gers as to which flights will be af­fected.

As well as air traf­fic con­trol strikes and weather dis­rup­tion, the air­line said the de­ci­sion was taken to meet a re­quire­ment for hol­i­day time for its crews fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of a new ros­ter struc­ture as re­quired by reg­u­la­tors.

Changes im­posed by the Ir­ish Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (IAA) in line with Euro­pean law means Ryanair must bring staff hol­i­days in line with the cal­en­dar year from Jan­uary, re­quir­ing it to al­lo­cate that leave be­fore the end of the year.

In a let­ter to its pi­lots on Wed­nes­day, seen by The Ir­ish Times, Ryanair’s chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer Michael Hickey said the change in hol­i­day al­lo­ca­tion pat­terns had “posed sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges”. It said the “crew­ing fore­cast” to the end of the year is for “tighter pi­lot num­bers” as the im­pact of the need to give time off, to­gether with other is­sues, “de­creases pi­lot avail­abil­ity sig­nif­i­cantly month on month”.

“We will be shortly con­tact­ing all those pi­lots who have been al­lo­cated a month off to de­ter­mine their avail­abil­ity to op­er­ate some du­ties dur­ing this month off to pro­tect the in­tegrity of the op­er­a­tion dur­ing the re­main­der of the flight year.

“This is a unique one-off is­sue where an im­posed tran­si­tion on our nor­mal leave year has cre­ated short-term chal­lenges.”

Op­er­a­tional pi­lots

In­dus­try sources have claimed Ryanair has a short­age of pi­lots, while Nor­we­gian air­lines re­cently con­firmed 140 of them had joined it this year. In its let­ter, Ryanair said it had a “sur­plus of op­er­a­tional pi­lots in July and Au­gust and a healthy over­all crew­ing ra­tio”.

A state­ment from Ryanair said the “in­creased leave at a time of ATC (air traf­fic con­trol) ca­pac­ity de­lays and strikes, has se­verely re­duced our on-time per­for­mance over the past two weeks to un­der 80 per cent.

“By can­celling less than 2 per cent 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 per cent.”

In a state­ment, the IAA said “Flight Time Lim­i­ta­tions”, a Euro­pean reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ment ap­pli­ca­ble to all mem­ber-state air­lines, “is now be­ing in­tro­duced by Ryanair to align with the Euro­pean cal­en­dar year of Jan­uary to De­cem­ber”.

Fu­ture can­cel­la­tions

A spokesman for Ryanair could not be reached for com­ment re­gard­ing fu­ture can­cel­la­tions.

Mean­while, pas­sen­gers on so­cial me­dia ex­pressed frus­tra­tion and con­fu­sion as to the sta­tus of their flights. In Rome, Alex Cur­rie (26) ar­rived at

check-in with his grand­mother Mary McEvoy (69) to find their flight had been can­celled. They had not been in­formed prior to ar­riv­ing at the air­port at 8.30am, he said.

“The only way to de­scribe it was bed­lam. There was one Rya­niar per­son try­ing to deal with ev­ery­one,” he said, ex­plain­ing that other stranded pas­sen­gers had dif­fer­ing ideas of what had hap­pened and what so­lu­tions were avail­able.

Mr Cur­rie said it would have cost him and his grand­mother al­most ¤1,000 to book al­ter­na­tive flights with an­other air­line and so they man­aged to ne­go­ti­ate a deal with their ho­tel to stay for the week­end.

“No one seemed to know why [the flight was can­celled],” he said. “There was only this one woman be­hind the counter . . . no one to of­fer any kind of sup­port that you would need in a sit­u­a­tion like that.”

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