Ryanair Pilots Offered More Money but May Have to Change Holiday Plans

Michael O'Leary centre at Ryanair’s annual meeting in Dublin today. He plans to make pilots change their holidays to stop the crisis getting worse

Mr O'Leary also rounded on his pilots, amid revelations that conflict between them and management has contributed to the staffing shortages.

MICHAEL O'LEARY admitted to being a "clown" yesterday but said he would not resign as Ryanair boss.

Passengers on cancelled flights have complained that notice was far to short and that it was hard to claim compensation.

About 500 of Ryanair's 4,200 pilots are due to take four weeks of leave in a single block in October, he said, so may be asked to defer one week of that leave until after January 1. The airline says it will cancel as many as 50 flights a day for six weeks because it "messed up" when scheduling crew holidays.

Ryanair has said it expects up to 20 million euros in compensation claims and 5 million euros in lost fares as a result of the cancellations, though analysts estimated the total cost could be higher.

Thursday's meeting comes amid reports that flight captains and first officers have rejected Ryanair's offer of bonus payments in exchange for making commitments to the airline.

He added:"I don't even know how there would be industrial action in Ryanair".

Mr O'Leary said that to help ensure no further cancellations after the six-week period, 500 pilots with a four-week block of leave booked for October and 500 in November will have to work one week of that leave. "It seems clear that Ryanair has failed to plan properly for the implementation of the regulations".

Loizos Heracleous, a professor of strategy and organization at Warwick Business School, said it is surprising that a company so focused on optimizing operations "could be caught out like this", and that it is mushrooming into a much bigger problem.

'Piloting is very highly skilled, but I challenge any pilot to explain how it is a hard job or how they are overworked, or how anybody who by law can't fly more than 18 hours a week could possibly be suffering from fatigue, ' he said. "Ryanair is recruiting new pilots and will probably have to sweeten the deal to reduce pilot turnover, in particular countries where the package is less competitive".

Employee councils liaise with Ryanair on behalf of pilots and staff, as the company refuses recognise unions. "There may be. They have been happening for about 30 years", he said.

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