Pilots had turned down a £12k bonus and demanded better working conditions in return for working holidays
RYANAIR boss Micheal O’Leary has admitted that he “cannot guarantee there won’t be further cancellations.”
The Chief Exec of the low-cost airline, which has cancelled more than 2,000 flights in the next six weeks, did say that there wouldn’t be, “any further cancellations as a result of this rostering issue” though.
The Irish billionaire has also revealed that he is considering taking back one week of its pilots’ holidays to prevent any further flight cancellations.
Michael O’Leary said pilots due to take a four-week block of holidays in the next few months because of a change in annual leave rotas will be told to reduce that to three weeks – getting the other week back in January.
At a meeting with shareholders at the airline’s AGM in Dublin, O’Leary said the airline does not need the agreement of pilots to take back a week of their leave and that they did not have sufficient spare pilots for September, October and November.
The move is unlikely to go down well with his staff who are already in revolt over working conditions.
There have been reports that many pilots turned down offers of a €12,000 (£10,600) bonus to give up some of their holiday and commit to the airline for another year.
Pilots in 33 airports across Europe were roundly rejecting the cash offer, instead demanding improved working conditions in their contracts to take on extra work before October 31.
There have been reports that staff are threatening to strike but O’Leary today denied that pilots had threatened industrial action and also dismissed the idea that a large number of pilots had rejected bonuses in favour of better working conditions.
He also revealed that they were handing pilots at some of its largest bases a €10,000 (£8,800) annual pay rise on top of the €12,000 bonus offered this week to those who help the airline alleviate a pilot shortage.
Pilots at London Stansted, Dublin, Frankfurt and Berlin were offered the pay rise, with similar offers at other airports dependent on whether those bases have a surplus of pilots.
According to the Irish billionaire, pilots had so far collectively offered to work an extra 2,500 days since the crisis broke.
He also revealed that the airline would recruit 125 extra pilots in the next two weeks.
There are currently sufficient pilots to staff flights but not enough to go on standby to deal with unforseen issues and avoid flight delays.
There are reportedly many employees on the verge of abandoning Ryanair for other airlines in Europe – which would add to the current flight cancellation chaos.
The Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa) has claimed that 140 Ryanair pilots left for Norwegian Air in recent weeks and months.
It also said other pools of pilots are on standby to move across Europe after accepting jobs with other airlines and waiting for start dates before handing in their notices.
A mass exodus risks a fresh round of flight cancellations for passengers.
A captain has claimed that pilots have been leaving Ryanair in droves because Michael O’Leary treats them with “utter contempt”.
More than 700 have left in 12 months, up 75 per cent on the year before.
One Ryanair pilot yesterday told The Sun: “The situation with pilots has finally reached breaking point. Years of abuse and lack of respect is finally catching up with them.”
But O’Leary denied suggestions that employee relations had become strained, saying: “Will there be squabbles with pilots? There may be. They have been happening for about 30 years.”
He also insisted that Ryanair’s pilots work under “good terms and conditions”.
He said: “There isn’t a bad relationship between Ryanair and our pilots.
“We asked on Monday for volunteers to work days off … we have had huge co-operation and support from pilots.”
Referring to pilots’ pay he admitted, “maybe we have got it a bit on the low side” and said it would be looked at.
Earlier O’Leary was grilled by shareholders about the shelving of up to 50 flights every day over the next six weeks.
He said: “We make mistakes. This time we made a major boo boo.
“A very big block of annual leave (for pilots) was over-allocated for September, October and November.”
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.
He added: “We will tell them, ‘we will make it up to you’. We will be reasonable.
“We don’t need their agreement.
“(Pilots) are not going to participate in work to rule. They want to succeed.”
He also apologised to the 350,000 people affected by the cancellations.
He said: “I seriously regret these cancellations and upsetting and worrying 80 million of our customers last week.
“We are working hard and long hours to address the passengers disrupted last weekend.
“By the end of this week over 95 per cent of customers will be rebooked or refunded.”
The six weeks of cancellations has cost the airline around €25million (£22 million).
The Chief Exec said he took personal responsibility for the operational mistakes that led to the cancellations and for the poor communication of the disruption.
The bill for the compensation for passengers left stranded and forced to re-book during the current flight cancellations could reach €20million (£17.7 million).
But passengers have been reporting problems with the process of refunds and compensation for cancelled flights, saying information supplied by the airline is incorrect and calls are going unanswered.
Angry customers inundated Ryanair’s Facebook page and many are also complaining their calls and messages through the airline’s call centre and online “chat” service are going unanswered or being cut off.
Thomas Cook pilots are walking out – here's all the info ahead of the strike
Brits face holiday hell as Thomas Cook pilots confirm strike this weekend
Full list of 2,024 axed Ryanair flights revealed as firm faces £18m compo bill
Is this the top treehouse in Britain? Stay in the four-bed home for £175 a night
Etiquette expert FINALLY solves issue of who owns the armrest on the plane
Is your Ryanair flight cancelled? How to find out if a booking is affected