By Gavin Hyland
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has decided to ground 25 of the airlines 400-strong fleet in order to stem the flow of cancellations this winter.
Ryanair is often in the news but it is not their flash sales that have people talking. The largest budget airline in Europe has cancelled over 300,000 bookings for September and October with a further 400,000 cancellations stretching until March 2018.
The airline put the cancellations down to pilot leave all accumulating at the same time but reports have suggested that the Irish airline is losing pilots to competitors such as Norwegian Air and EasyJet.
Ryanair has denied these reports but there will be concern at the expansion of these companies in a market previously dominated by Ryanair. Norwegian Air have ordered 200 aircraft to add to their growing fleet.
EasyJet are competing with Lufthansa as potential bidders for the struggling Air Berlin as part of their expansion. The British airline also capitalised on the struggles of Ryanair by announcing a further aircraft will operate their Belfast to London Stansted route, just days after Ryanair announced it was cancelling this route for the winter.
Kenny Jacobs, Chief Marketing Officer for Ryanair said: “90% of customers affected by the 18,000 schedule changes from November to March will be re-accommodated or refunded by October 1st.” It is not known if the company reached that target.
The financial fallout of the cancellations is still unknown. It is the reputational damage inflicted by the cancellations and its management that will worry Ryanair bosses.
The company announced over 1 million seats were on sale on September 29th on assurances that there would be no further cancellations, only for 400,000 more bookings to be cancelled, including some of those purchased on the September 29th sale.