Ryanair today (September 27) announced that it will cancel another 18,000 flights between November this year and March 2018, affecting another 400,000 passengers.

The company said it would “slow its growth” this winter by flying 25 less aircraft from November and ten fewer from April 2018. Ryanair claims this move will eliminate the risk of further flight cancellations because “slower growth creates spare aircraft and crews across Ryanair’s 86 bases.”

The airline also says cancelling more flights means it will be able to give pilots and crew the annual leave owed to them under the IAA’s requirement. The company will move to a new calendar leave year from January 1 2018. It says it will roster almost 40 per cent of pilot leave in the first quarter next year, “which removes risk of roster problems recurring next year.”

Betting on its confidence of no further cancellations, the airline has rolled out a series of low-fare sales on its winter schedule, but admits the latest wave of axed flights will affect 400,000 customers over a five-month period. It claims the affected services have “zero bookings” at the moment.

Unlike its first round of cancellations through October, Ryanair has released a list of discontinued services straight away. It says it has already contacted affected customers with advance notice, offering them alternative flights or full refunds and compensation.

In addition, the first 315,000 passengers have been offered a €40 voucher (€80 return), according to Ryanair, which they can use to book a future flight with the airline between October and March.

As part of its announcement, the carrier says many claims about a mass exodus by its pilots made in the media are untrue, stating that it has received widespread support from pilots, who have offered to work days off. It will be implementing pay increases for pilots and first officers based at Dublin, Stansted, Berlin and Frankfurt from October 1.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said: “We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today.”

He added that 99 per cent of Ryanair’s customers remain unaffected by the cancellations.   

The Civial Aviation Authority (CAA) announced it had launched legal action against Ryanair “for persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights in respect of its recent cancellations.”

The regulatory body says it contacted the airline earlier this month for reassurance that customers would be provided with accurate information regarding their rights and entitlements. The CAA claims that in announcing the second wave of cancellations through 2018, Ryanair “has again failed to provide customers with the necessary and accurate information, particularly around rerouting and care and assistance entitlements, which includes expenses.”

Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, commented: “There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation. We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations… The information Ryanair published today again fails to make this clear.

“In expediting our enforcement action we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight.”

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