Ryanair’s chief operations officer will be stepping down following the troubles in which a mistake in pilot’s leave forced the airline to cancel some flights through the winter season, affecting 700,000 passengers.

Michael Hickey’s resignation was announced by CEO Michael O’Leary over the weekend. Hickey is one of the longest-serving members of the Ryanair executive team and is the first to leave after the controversial cancellations.

O’Leary said in a statement: “Over the past 30 years Michael Hickey has made an enormous contribution to Ryanair, especially the quality and safety of our engineering and operations functions.

According to O’Leary, Hickey will continue working for the company in an advisory role “to smooth the transition to a successor”.

The news comes after O’Leary allegedly sent a letter to pilots apologising for the situation and offering somewhat of a truce in the form of better contract terms, salary increases and loyalty bonus payments.

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