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ryanair pilot shortage


Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has offered the airline’s pilots better pay and conditions.

The improved conditions came after Ryanair was forced to cancel thousands of flights in recent weeks.

In a letter to pilots, Michael O’Leary also apologized for changes that caused disruptions to their rotas and urges them not to leave the airline.

The chief executive’s apology came after he accused the pilots of being “full of their own self-importance”.

However, in the letter seen by the Irish Independent newspaper, Michael O’Leary urges pilots to stay with Ryanair “for a brighter future”.

Ryanair has been in crisis after the rota changes – brought about to comply with new aviation rules – led to a shortage of pilots because the airline failed to plan for enough leave.

The airline announced its first wave of 2,100 cancelations in the middle of September, after it rearranged pilots’ rosters to comply with new aviation rules requiring a change in how their flying hours are logged.

Towards the end of September Ryanair announced 18,000 further flights would be canceled over the winter season. These moves affect more than 700,000 passengers.

Image source Wikimedia

Ryanair Cancels Thousands of Flights Due to Shortage of Pilots

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Ryanair blamed the flight fiasco on its own mistaken decision to force its pilots to take their remaining annual leave before the end of this year, rather than by the end of the financial year next March.

That left the airline without enough pilots to fly all its scheduled flights in September and October.

However, passengers have complained about the short notice of the cancellations and the consumer group Which? said Ryanair’s compensation information was “woefully short”.

Many of Ryanair’s 4,200 pilots had joined unions over the past two weeks over discontent with the disruptions caused by the rota changes.

Michael O’Leary’s letter implored the pilot team not to leave Ryanair and offered them improved terms and working conditions.

The sweeteners included pay increases, loyalty bonus payments, improved rotas and better compensation for pilots forced to work away from their home base.

Michael O’Leary stressed that Ryanair was a “very secure employer” and he emphasized that the airline’s pilots “are the best in the business”.

He asked them not to allow competitor pilots or their unions “to demean or disparage our collective success”.

The Ryanair boss also urged the airline’s pilots not to join “one of these less financially secure or Brexit-challenged airlines”.

Michael O’Leary’s letter asked the pilots to take note of “the recent bankruptcies of Air Berlin, Alitalia and Monarch”, as well as the difficulties faced by another budget airline, Norwegian Air, which has been under pressure to boost its finances.


Ryanair has warned that it could face up to 20 million euros in compensation claims after canceling thousands of flights due to a shortage of pilots.

The low-cost airline plans to cancel 40-50 flights every day for the next six weeks, after it admitted it had “messed up” the planning of pilot holidays.

In a letter to pilots, Ryanair COO Michael Hickey said the company’s crewing forecast to the end of December was “for tighter pilot numbers”.

The letter shows Ryanair pilots were only informed on September 13 of the staff shortage facing the company yet Michael Hickey outlined that it knew last year they may face a leave backlog.

Pilots have been asked to work during their booked holiday to cover the gaps and their rota pattern is also likely to be disrupted.

Image source Wikimedia

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In the letter, Michael Hickey said these pilots would be “helping protect the integrity of the operation during the remainder of the flight year”.

Ryanair also faces pressure to publish a full list of the flights it plans to cancel every day amid growing anger among customers.

So far it has only published a list of affected flights up until September 20.

The airline has blamed a backlog of staff leave for the disruption, which could affect up to 400,000 passengers.

Ryanair is changing its holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to run from January to December instead.

This has led to large numbers of its staff taking holidays in September and October.

Reports on September 18 also suggested recruitment problems were affecting the airline and that it had lost pilots to rival Norwegian Air.

A Norwegian Air spokesperson said: “We can confirm that 140 pilots have joined us from Ryanair this year. Pilot recruitment is also underway for more pilots for our new Dublin base opening later this year.”