Ryanair was accused of cancelling Christmas last night after wrecking the plans of 400,000 more passengers.
Two weeks after scrapping 2,000 autumn flights, the budget airline said a further 18,000 will be grounded this winter.
Thirty-four routes will be suspended in a desperate attempt to solve a staffing crisis.
Ryanair was accused of cancelling Christmas last night after wrecking the plans of 400,000 more passengers. These are the 34 flight routes that will be scrapped until March 2018 following today’s announcement by Ryanair. It includes routes such as London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas
Ryanair has admitted ‘messing up’ its holiday rosters for pilots, leaving too few on standby to keep schedules on track. Although the second wave of cancellations is bigger than the first, similar numbers of passengers will be hit because the flights are not yet booked out.
All services between London and Scotland will be scrapped over the festive period, along with many linking European cities.
Passengers are not entitled to compensation because they have had at least 14 days notice.
The email that ruined our honeymoon
Dan Crabb is one of almost 400,000 Ryanair passengers to get an unwelcome email from the airline yesterday
A cancelled flight is certainly not the ideal start to anyone’s honeymoon.
Dan Crabb is one of almost 400,000 Ryanair passengers to get an unwelcome email from the airline yesterday.
He and his fiancee Sophie are getting married on Saturday and were due to fly from London Stansted to Hamburg in December on the first leg of their honeymoon. They had deliberately booked an early-morning flight to spend almost two days in the city.
But bank manager Mr Crabb, 31, received an email informing him that the flight has been cancelled. The next flight from Stansted was not until the evening, spoiling their plans.
Mr Crabb, of Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, said any flights from Gatwick would entail a dear taxi ride.
The pair are also due to fly back from Marrakesh with Ryanair on their final honeymoon leg in January, which they also fear will be cancelled. He said: ‘I have massively lost trust in Ryanair.’ Mr Crabb has been offered a choice of rebooking for free or a refund.
‘This situation is a complete and utter shambles that now extends to up to nearly three quarters of a million people,’ said Alex Neill, of the consumer group Which?
‘Ryanair has effectively cancelled Christmas for some of its passengers.’ She said the offer of a £40 voucher would be cold comfort for passengers who could not book the flight they required.
The latest fiasco heaps further pressure on Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary. The airline has been accused of failing to tell passengers how to claim compensation – and of refusing to book them on alternative airlines.
Two weeks after scrapping 2,000 autumn flights, the budget airline said a further 18,000 will be grounded this winter
And last night the Civil Aviation Authority launched enforcement action against Ryanair ‘for persistently misleading’ customers. Some said they would never fly with the carrier again. Others fear being left out of pocket, having already booked accommodation or car hire.
Steve Double, a Tory member of the Commons transport committee, said: ‘These latest cancellations are clearly very concerning. The future of O’Leary is a matter for shareholders but he needs to provide some real answers about how this has been allowed to happen.’ Ryanair said reducing its flying schedule in a ‘controlled manner’ would eliminate all risk of further cancellations, providing spare aircraft and crews over the winter.
It had hoped to avoid the extra cancellations after offering pilots entitled to holiday in the coming months up to £12,000 to come into work for a week. But this was rejected by a group of pilots who demanded better working conditions instead. The airline yesterday insisted hundreds of pilots had given up holiday time.
Airline boss and billionaire Michael O’Leary has apologised to outraged passengers
The cancellations will ground all flights linking London to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast, with 34 routes suspended between November 17 and March 18.
Ryanair said it would take 25 of its 400 planes across Europe out of action during the five-month period. The Civil Aviation Authority is particularly concerned that Ryanair has failed to spell out the right to rebook on a flight with another airline. The airline has insisted it is not obliged to do so.
Andrew Haines, the regulator’s chief executive, said: ‘We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers. The information Ryanair published today again fails to makes this clear.’
Thirty-four routes will be suspended in a desperate attempt to solve a staffing crisis
£80 voucher and apology ‘is an insult’
Ryanair offer of an £80 travel voucher was last night described as an ‘insult’ to passengers left hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
The airline said almost three quarters of a million customers whose flights were cancelled had been emailed a voucher of up to £80 for a return flight and £40 for single fare – with an apology. They are valid between October 1 and March 20.
Tory MP Steve Double, of the Commons transport committee, said it was not enough for many passengers who had wasted money on accommodation or had to pay for flights on other airlines, adding: ‘In some situations this will be an insult.’
Many of those affected by the first set of cancellations will be owed compensation under EU rules as they were given less than 14 days notice. But those affected by yesterday’s cancellations will not be eligible.
Ryanair said £40 is more than its current average fare.
The CAA can take court action to force airlines to make changes. A Ryanair spokesman said: ‘We are in correspondence with the CAA and have addressed their concerns.’
The company said many of the 18,000 flights cancelled yesterday were empty and the decision would affect just one service a day at each of its 200 airports.
But the move was significant enough for 400,000 passengers to be sent an email telling them their flights had been axed.
As with the first wave of cancellations, which affected around 315,000 people, there is a choice between rebooking and a refund. Ryanair has offered both groups of passengers vouchers of £40 for single fares and £80 for returns.
Guy Anker, managing editor of Moneysavingexpert, said: ‘This is another kick in the teeth for already hard hit and worried Ryanair passengers. It will pile further pressure on its top brass, including Michael O’Leary. While Ryanair had a bad reputation for hitting you with unexpected fees – at least it got you to your destination.
‘Now people are going to wonder whether it can even do that.’
Ryanair has announced it will scrap 18,000 more flights on 34 routes until March 2018
Mr 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. While over 99 per cent of our 129million customers will not have been affected by any cancellations or disruptions, we deeply regret any doubt we caused existing customers last week about Ryanair’s reliability, or the risk of further cancellations.’
Ryanair insisted there was no shortage of pilots. But one told the Mail: ‘This is rubbish. It is not just normal pilots who are leaving. We are losing training captains – the guys needed to train replacement cadets and captains. They are leaving in droves. All the experience is being washed out’
FULL LIST OF CANCELLED FLIGHTS
1. Bucharest – Palermo
2. Chania – Athens
3. Chania – Pafos
4. Chania – Thessaloniki
5. Cologne – Berlin (SXF)
6. Edinburgh – Szczecin
7. Glasgow – Las Palmas
8. Hamburg – Edinburgh
9. Hamburg – Katowice
10. Hamburg – Oslo (TRF)
11. Hamburg – Thessaloniki
12. Hamburg – Venice (TSF)
13. London (LGW) – Belfast
14. London (STN) – Edinburgh
15. London (STN) – Glasgow
16. Newcastle – Faro
17. Newcastle – Gdansk
18. Sofia – Castellon
19. Sofia – Memmingen
20. Sofia – Pisa
21. Sofia – Stockholm (NYO)
22. Sofia – Venice (TSF)
23. Thessaloniki – Bratislava
24. Thessaloniki – Paris BVA
25. Thessaloniki – Warsaw (WMI)
26. Trapani – Baden Baden
27. Trapani – Frankfurt (HHN)
28. Trapani – Genoa
29. Trapani – Krakow
30. Trapani – Parma
31. Trapani – Rome FIU
32. Trapani – Trieste
33. Wroclaw – Warsaw
34. Gdansk – Warsaw
What are passengers’ rights when flights are cancelled?
Under EU Regulation 261/2004 holidaymakers have certain rights if their flight is cancelled or delayed.
The flight must have departed from an EU airport and be operated by any airline, or it must be arriving into an EU airport and be operated by an EU airline. The ‘EU airport’ also includes the following countries; Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Firstly airlines must offer an alternative flight or a full refund, if your flight was cancelled.
You can also get a full refund if the flight wasn’t cancelled but was delayed for more than five hours and you no longer wish to travel.
Airlines must also offer you meals, refreshments, and hotel accommodation as appropriate whilst you wait for a rearranged flight for both delays and cancellation.
They should also cover any transport costs between the hotel and the airport.
You should keep any food, transport or accommodation receipts to use when making a claim for compensation.
Here are some of the key questions around the claims process:
What rules apply?
EU law protects passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled under the Denied Boarding Regulation.
This applies to flights either departing from an EU airport or those that are both arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline, such as Ryanair.
Are passengers entitled to a refund?
Yes, passengers can claim a refund from the airline. If they have booked a return flight and the outbound leg is cancelled, they can also claim the full cost of the return ticket.
What if a passenger still wants to travel?
Ryanair must offer an alternative flight as soon as possible after the cancelled flight. This will be ‘at worse’ on the following day, Ryanair said.
Do they get any assistance while they wait?
Delayed passengers are entitled to claim reasonable expenditure for food, soft drinks, phone calls and accommodation.
What about compensation?
If less than 14 days notice is given for a cancellation, airline travellers can claim up to 250 euros (£221) under EU regulation 261, depending on the timing of the alternative flight.
Customers given more warning are not entitled to a payout.
Is compensation automatic?
No, disrupted passengers must write a letter of complaint to the airline.
They should keep as much evidence as they can, such as boarding cards and receipts to claim expenses.
A template letter can be found on the website of consumer watchdog Which?