Ryanair was last night facing a revolt from its own pilots which threatens to cause even more chaos for passengers.
Furious crew at 60 airports across Europe signed a letter condemning the behaviour of their beleaguered chief executive Michael O’Leary for showing them and their passengers ‘disrespect’ over the cancelled flights fiasco.
In the bombshell letter, the pilots warned there would be no end to the disruption unless their working conditions improve.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, pictured, is under fire for his handling of the pilot crisis
The airline has been forced to cancel thousands of flights discommoding passengers
They said the crisis would continue unless bosses showed a ‘different management attitude and mindset than the ones that created the problems in the first place’.
The revolt came as the airline faced a fresh set of punishing and potentially expensive demands from the Civil Aviation Authority watchdog to compensate passengers.
The fiasco is now threatening to engulf Ryanair and Mr O’Leary, with passengers furious over the cancellation of more than 20,000 flights right through until March next year. More than 750,000 passengers have been affected.
The chaos has been blamed on the airline ‘messing up’ its pilots’ holiday rota. This has created a shortage of pilots as too many have rushed to take holidays before a new system is introduced.
Mr O’Leary received the letter at the airline’s headquarters in Dublin, pictured
But unions have claimed the real cause of the crisis is disillusioned pilots leaving in droves. While Ryanair employees are not unionised, some pilots are said to be plotting to take unofficial action in the form of ‘mass sick days’ and working to rule.
This includes refusing to work during time off or to fill in for a sick colleague.
Last week, many were left infuriated after Mr O’Leary accused them of being ‘full of their own self importance’.
The pilots’ letter, seen by the Mail, is backed by those at airports including Luton, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Edinburgh, East Midlands, Dublin and Cork.
Addressed to Mr O’Leary and fellow executives, it says: ‘We were disappointed to hear the CEO … speak in a negative and disparaging way about pilots. The disrespect shown to both passengers and pilots by management has not and will not help to solve our shared problems at the moment.’
Crew based in Dublin airport, pictured, are among those to have signed the letter
The rebellion has been orchestrated by the Ryanair’s Employee Rep Committee. It lays out of list of demands. These include permanent local contracts, and similar pay and conditions to rival airlines to ‘stem the exit of pilots’.
The pilot group said new contracts need to be negotiated by January 1, 2018 – with ‘agreed interim arrangements if negotiations are delayed’.
Announcing the cancellation of flights for another 400,000 passengers over the winter on Wednesday, Ryanair insisted there was no pilot shortage and rejected claims that many pilots are leaving.
It also insisted it has received ‘widespread support’ from its 4,200 pilots over the past weeks. Ryanair has already offered some of its pilots a £8,800 annual pay rise.
But one Ryanair captain who backed the letter told the Mail last night: ‘Pilots are sick and tired of Ryanair and will continue leaving.’
Last night the Civil Aviation Authority heaped pressure on Ryanair to compensate passengers left out of pocket and re-book them on other airlines wherever necessary.
The airline has cancelled thousands of flights across Europe into early next year
The watchdog has launched enforcement action against the airline for insisting that passengers have to wait for the next available Ryanair flight. It has no statutory powers against airlines itself, but can pursue them in the High Court.
In a letter to Ryanair, CAA chief executive Andrew Haines laid out the demands which could send its compensation bill spiralling.
This includes payouts for passengers who have already booked more expensive flights with other carriers. It also said passengers should be compensated if they incurred extra expenses such as hotels.
The regulator said the 400,000 passengers affected by the latest wave of cancellations should have the right to re-book on other airlines.
Ryanair has suspended 34 routes between November 17 and March 18. More than 20,000 flights have been cancelled.
The airline did not comment on the letter from pilots. A spokesman said: ‘We will be meeting with the CAA and will comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to.’
Ryanair has ruined our families’ Christmas break on the Canary Islands, say best friends
Hayley Ruane-Musgrave, right, and Claire Harpur, left, were due to fly to the Canary Islands with their families this Christmas
Best friends Hayley Ruane-Musgrave and Claire Harpur were due to fly to the Canary Islands with their families this Christmas.
But the pair are ‘devastated’ after Ryanair cancelled their flights and now fear they will have to cancel their holidays altogether.
They were due to stay at Caleta De Fuste on Fuerteventura, but they received a text on Wednesday night from Ryanair that read: ‘Please see your email regarding your Ryanair flight.’
After receiving no emails they phoned Sunmaster, the package holiday company which organised their trips, and were told their Ryanair flights had been cancelled.
Initially they were told they would receive a refund, but were later advised to pay an extra £375 to re-book. However, yesterday the prices went up to £505 per family, which they cannot afford.
For 34-year-old Mrs Ruane-Musgrave from Warrington, the £2,800 ten-day holiday was supposed to be her first family trip abroad with her husband and four children. ‘I am devastated because the costs are now extortionate,’ she said.
‘It looks like we will have to cancel – unless Ryanair decide to refund us. I can take it on the chin, but we are going to have to sit our children down and tell them we now aren’t going away on holiday anymore.’
She described the airline company’s refund voucher offer as ‘disgusting and not compensation’. She added: ‘They are just handing out £40 vouchers thinking it will make everything all right. I wouldn’t use the company ever again.’
Mrs Harpur, 34, who lives opposite, was due to join Mrs Ruane-Musgrave with her four children and husband. She booked through the same tour company, but expected to stay for 12 nights instead, costing her £3,000 upfront.
The care worker said: ‘They tried telling us it would cost us an extra £375 to re-book flights and they would keep that for us until [Thursday] until we made our minds up and now it’s gone up to £505 per family. We’ve contacted SunMaster and Ryanair – but they’re just not helping us.’