Ryanair Announces More Flight Cancellations
Ryanair (NASDAQ:RYAAY) has canceled flights for hundreds of thousands more customers due to a shortage of pilots. The company said it will cancel 18,000 flights scheduled between November and March. Ryanair previously said that it would cancel 40 to 50 flights a day up until the end of October. It also said it would temporarily suspend flights on 30 routes.
The decision was made to fly 25 fewer aircraft from November and 10 fewer from April 2018. The move will reduce passenger volumes from 131 million to 129 million this fiscal year and to 138 million from 142 million in the following 12 months. The company said the move would allow it to minimize flight delays. Ryanair is currently Europe’s biggest airline.
Ryanair blamed the original cancellations on a backlog of staff leave. Rostering issues caused the sudden grounding of over 2,000 flights in September and October. The company has been offering some pilots pay increases on top cash incentives to work extra days.
Ryanair said the new cancellations would affect less than 1 percent of the 50 million people flying with the airline this winter. The latest cancellations will affect around 400,000 passengers. This is in addition to the 300,000 passengers impacted by the earlier travel cancellations. An email has been sent to the affected customers, giving them between five weeks and five months notice of the cancellations.
The affected customers are being offered alternative flights or refunds. The company said that refunds and costs related to the initial 2,100 cancellations would total less than €25 million ($29 million), while free flight vouchers it issued to passengers would cost an additional €25 million. The costs of the most recent cancellations have not been announced.
Last week, Ryanair boss Michael O‘Leary had said that no more flights would be canceled due to the issue. The cancellations have harmed the airline’s share price and reputation. O‘Leary said in a statement, “We sincerely apologize to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today.”
Ryanair has also cut back its growth plans for the first time in years. Ryanair announced that it would abandon a takeover bid for Italy’s national carrier Alitalia. The company said that it had already notified Alitalia’s bankruptcy commissioners of its decision. Ryanair said that it would not be revising its 1.4 billion to 1.45 billion euro profit forecast for its current financial year, which ends March 31.