Ryanair is to cancel an extra 18,000 flights in a move that will hit 400,000 customers as the fallout from the airline’s mismanagement of pilot leave intensifies.
The Irish carrier said that as part of efforts to end a wave of cancellations that has already seen 2,000 flights grounded, it will fly 25 less aircraft between November and March.
The firm has been forced into the cancellations after miscalculating pilot leave.
Taking more flights out of service means that Ryanair will be able to “roster all of the extra pilot leave necessary” in October, November and December, the budget airline said.
As a result, 34 routes are suspended for the winter season from November to March 2018.
They include several popular routes used by British travellers, including London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas, capital of Gran Canaria.
The move will add to mounting anger over Ryanair, which has come under heavy fire after recently shelving up to 50 flights every day for six weeks.
Boss Michael O’Leary has blamed the move on mismanagement of pilots’ annual leave, leading to the over-allocation of blocks of holidays.
The flight cancellations has so far cost the airline around 25 million euro.
Ryanair said the latest step will “eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations” and remove the risk of similar problems recurring next year.
The firm also plans to roll out a series of low fare seat sales for winter 2017 as it is “confident that there will be no further roster related cancellations”.
It argued less than 1% of the 50 million customers Ryanair will carry this winter are impacted and all affected passengers have received an email alerting them and offering alternative flights or full refunds.
They have also received a 40 euro travel voucher.