Pilot holiday stuff-up forces airline to cancel up to 2100 flights

A budget Irish airline has confessed that a pilot leave bungle is the reason for thousands of flight cancellations, which are set to continue for more than a month.

Ryanair cancelled more than 50 flights over the weekend, and plans to scrap 40 to 50 flights daily for the next six weeks – a potential 2100 flights in total.

“We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that,” the airline said in a Facebook apology yesterday.

Ryanair had previously said the cancellations were aimed at improving punctuality, and still insists the cancellation figure represents less than two percent of its total flights.

Ryanair is expected to cancel as many as 2100 flights. (AAP)

It has offered refunds or flight changes to affected customers, and has been criticised for not releasing a full list of cancelled flights.

“Ok Ryanair that’s a start. Now can we have all the cancellations from now till the end of October please. Maybe by tomorrow? So people can start rearranging flights car hire hotels etc. Perhaps you could automatically rebook people onto the next best flight and give them the option to change or cancel,” one Facebook user wrote.

“You don’t have any pilots left! That pilot shortage you’ve been keeping quiet from the shareholders and customers for months has finally been found out,” another user wrote.

On Saturday, the Codacons consumer advocacy group said Ryanair’s decision to drop more than 2000 flights had put a poor light on its plans to bid for bankrupt Alitalia.

Codacons said the decision will have repercussions for “thousands and thousands of Italian travelers”, and that passengers should be fully reimbursed or rebooked on other flights at no additional cost.

Codacons added that “in light of what happened, the air carrier does not seem the most adapted to take over Alitalia”.

Ryanair’s CEO earlier said the low-cost carrier would make a bid for the long-range assets of Alitalia, which filed for bankruptcy in May.

A partial list of cancelled flights is available at the Ryanair website. 

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2017

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