Un­der-fire air­line ramps up flights at Scot­tish air­port

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - Front Page - By con­nor Boyd

Ryanair has been se­cretly putting would- be pi­lots through their paces – after can­celling the travel plans of thousands of Scots.

The firm has dra­mat­i­cally ramped up flight train­ing pro­grammes be­ing car­ried out at Prest­wick Air­port.

The un­der- fire car­rier was forced to can­cel scores of Scots flights after be­ing hit by a pi­lot short­age.

Now it hopes to boost flight deck num­bers with a re­cruit­ment push.

Last week The Sun­day Post watched as Ryanair put new re­cruits through their paces at Prest­wick Air­port, where they made re­peated take- offs and land­ings in Boe­ing 737s.

Ryanair was ac­cused of “can­celling Christ­mas” when it axed 18,000 win­ter flights, af­fect­ing 400,000 peo­ple.

we were fly­ing with my daugh­ter and part­ner for our first Christ­mas in London in three years and also to cel­e­brate my daugh­ter’s sec­ond birth­day on De­cem­ber 22 with fam­ily.”

The young cou­ple, who live in East Kil­bride, had to re-book with easy­Jet, which cost them £100 more than with Ryanair.

Be­cause of the new flight times, Ed­ina and Adrian were forced to take an ex­tra day off work – mean­ing they’ve missed out on two days’ wages.

Ed­ina said: “It isn’t small change to any­one, but espe­cially not to a young fam­ily like mine. With our daugh­ter’s birth­day three days be­fore Christ­mas it is an ex­pen­sive enough time as it is.”

Tour guide Lisa Sauer, 39, will spend Christ­mas alone as she now can’t get to her fam­ily. She said: “With­out the pos­si­bil­ity of cheap flights I won’t be able to visit my fam­ily for Christ­mas or have them visit me.”

Lisa, 39, is cur­rently in Salzburg and was wor­ried she’d be stranded there after the can­cel­la­tions from London to Scot­land.

She said: “I’m trav­el­ling back to Ed­in­burgh on Oc­to­ber 30. London to Ed­in­burgh was my con­nect­ing flight from Salzburg.

“The can­cel­la­tions are a dis­as­ter for me. I now will face higher costs or up to 12 hours on a bus if I want to travel.”

In an at­tempt to soften the blow and save face, the Dublin-based air­line has launched a sale on more than one mil­lion seats, with tick­ets sell­ing for as low as £ 9.99 per oneway trip. The offer ends tonight at mid­night.

Ryanair is cur­rently ad­ver­tis­ing 22 pi­lot va­can­cies on its web­site.

The com­pany is hir­ing di­rect en­try cap­tains, mean­ing ex­ist­ing first of­fi­cers with ri­val air­lines can be fast- tracked to the po­si­tion of cap­tain with Ryanair.

Ryanair said this was “due to ex­ten­sive growth” but sources ad­mit they need to win back public con­fi­dence after the PR dis­as­ter.

The Dublin- based car­rier says it has of­fered jobs to more than 650 new pi­lots, who will join the ranks be­tween now and May 2018.

It also claims to have 2500 pi­lots on wait­ing lists.

The Ir­ish car­rier has been forced to deal with flight can­cel­la­tions after mis­cal­cu­lat­ing pi­lot hol­i­day leave.

The firm said it will fly 25 fewer air­craft be­tween Novem­ber and March as part of ef­forts to end a flurry of can­cel­la­tions that has al­ready seen 2000 flights grounded.

As a re­sult, 34 routes are sus­pended, in­clud­ing London Stansted to Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow, Gatwick to Belfast, New­cas­tle to Faro, and Glas­gow to Las Pal­mas.

The move has added to mount­ing anger over Ryanair, which has come un­der heavy fire after re­cently shelv­ing up to 50 flights ev­ery day for six weeks.

The com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary had ad­mited the com­pany “messed up” pi­lot hol­i­day ros­ters – but in­sisted they will com­pen­sate pas­sen­gers let down.

The U- turn will see the air­line re­fund “rea­son­able” out- of- pocket ex­penses after be­ing crit­i­cised by avi­a­tion watch­dogs.

The air­line, which faced the threat of le­gal action by the Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity, said pas­sen­gers would first be moved to the next avail­able Ryanair flight on the same route.

If that’s not pos­si­ble, they could take a Ryanair flight from an al­ter­na­tive air­port.

If this also fails, they will be of­fered a flight with easy­Jet, Jet2, Vuel­ing, Ci­tyJet, Aer Lin­gus, Nor­we­gian or Eurow­ings.

As a last mea­sure, it could mean cus­tomers be­ing of­fered a rental car or even a rail or bus ticket.

Would-be Ryanair pi­lots have been prac­tis­ing take-offs and land­ings in Boe­ing 737s from Prest­wick as chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary, in­set, comes un­der fire

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