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Ryanair cancels more flights, cuts growth plans

Shares in Ryanair, which fell by over 4% last week, were 2.3% higher at 13:15 GMT.

Picture:  Twitter/@Ryanair

DUBLIN - Ryanair cancelled flights for hundreds of thousands more customers on Wednesday and cut back its growth plans for the first time in years in its latest moves to minimize the impact of a shortage of pilots.

Ryanair boss Michael O‘Leary had said last week that no more flights would be cancelled due to the rostering issues that caused the sudden grounding of over 2,000 flights in September and October, hitting the airline’s share price and reputation.

But on Wednesday the airline, Europe’s largest by passenger numbers, said it would cancel flights for around 400,000 passengers in addition to 300,000 impacted by earlier travel cancellations.

It said the move would allow it to minimize flight delays and would mean an earlier threat to force pilots to reschedule holidays would not be carried out.

The decision to fly 25 fewer aircraft from November and 10 fewer from April 2018 will “provide stability to pilot rosters,” it said.

“We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today,” O‘Leary said in a statement.

Shares in Ryanair jumped after it said the slower growth would eliminate “all risk” of further cancellations and said that they would not alter its 1.4 billion to 1.45 billion euro profit forecast for the financial year ending 31 March.
Shares in Ryanair, which fell by over 4% last week, were 2.3% higher at 13:15 GMT.

The move does mean a rare cut in growth plans at the fast-growing airline, reducing passenger volumes to 129 million from 131 million and to 138 million from 142 million in the following 12 months to March 2019, Ryanair said.

Average fares are also expected to be slightly lower over the next two months as it promotes seat sales, it added.
The Irish airline also said it had notified Alitalia’s bankruptcy commissioners that it will not be pursuing its interest in the Italian carrier.

Ryanair blamed the original cancellations on a backlog of staff leave and outlined a carrot-and-stick approach last week, offering some pilots pay increases on top cash incentive to work extra days but also saying others may have to postpone leave.

It said on Wednesday that the reduced schedule would mean it would not need pilots to give up one week of their annual leave from November and that the slower growth would create a large surplus of standby pilots.

Some Ryanair pilots have in recent week been encouraging each other to join trade unions to take advantage of the shortage of standby pilots to force management to improve conditions.

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