Over 700,000 passengers have been left without a holiday as budget airline Ryanair has had to cancel up to 2,100 flights until March 2018.
Speculations have arisen that the company may have a shortage of pilots, and as such are unable to meet the demand for flights both in and out of Britain.
Ryanair’s boss, Michael O’Leary has told the BBC that he thinks the error with the holiday rotas for pilots, combined with bad weather, and air traffic control delays and strikes.
However, many pilots, both past and present, from Ryanair told the BBC that pilots are leaving the company “in droves” to move to other airlines, as they are “annoyed at being blamed for taking holidays”.
The pilots feel that they are being used as scapegoats for the cancellations being made.
One pilot said: “The issue is one of crewing, and crewing only. No company plans to implement a leave system that leaves them woefully undermanned during a peak period. Had Ryanair had enough pilots, this would not have been an issue. However, the lack of pilots has been laid bare for all to see.”
“Bizarrely, people that work here are laughing, because it’s finally all coming out”, another pilot said.
Ryanair is now offering a £12,000 bonus to captains who stay from now until the end of October 2018. But many people are angered at the strings attached.
The conditions state that the pilot must fly 800 hours over the year, work extra days, they can’t take more than four days off due to illness to qualify for the £12,000 bonus.
Ryanair is still, however, insisting that the problem is not due to a lack of pilots. They told the BBC: “This is not true. These cancellations are not a result of pilot shortages.”
The UK Civil Aviation Authority has since given a deadline to Ryanair by the end of September to reimburse the passengers whose flights have been cancelled, with risks of being taken to court and being forced to pay an unlimited fine if they did not meet the deadline.
Paul Leinster, 29, from Glasgow, has had the issue of his flight to Las Palmas in November. Ryanair has revealed to him that the route from Glasgow to Las Palmas has been completely cancelled for the winter, leaving him with no option but to request a refund, which he received within a week from the company.
He said: “Ryanair have contacted me since, offering me an £80 voucher for money off a flight. However I have no intention of booking another flight with them while this disruption is ongoing and there’s a chance it could be cancelled.”
Ryanair have said that customers can rebook with a different airline through them, though for Paul, this was not an option made available to him when he was told his flight was cancelled.
“Because I was worried about other airlines selling out quickly or increasing their fares, I wanted to rebook immediately. I won’t be very happy if Ryanair don’t give me back the difference that I’ve paid”, he added.
The problem has been predicted to appear again next summer, as it takes three months for a pilot to work their notice at another airline and then a further three months for Ryanair to train them.