Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary apologises to shareholders over schedule chaos

Caitlin Morrison
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Michael O'Leary has made a rare apology for Ryanair flight problems (Source: Getty)

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has apologised to the airline's board and shareholders for the "major management failure" that has led to hundreds of flight cancellations, and said the group is undertaking a major recruitment drive aimed at fixing the problem.

O'Leary said sorry at the company's annual general meeting, where he is facing serious questions over a scheduling meltdown that's caused the group to cancel up to 50 flights a day over a six week period.

The Irish firm has run into problems after operating a record schedule and traffic levels during July and August, which it blamed for creating a "backlog of crew leave" - basically, staff have too much holiday left to take so there's nobody to fly the planes. In total, 2,100 of 103,000 flights will be cancelled.

O'Leary told the AGM Ryanair was considering forcing 500 pilots to change their holiday plans so as to avoid further disruption.

This week, the firm offered pilots a bonus to work 10 additional days to alleviate the shortage.

The Ryanair boss also said the budget airline is going to recruit 125 pilots over the next two weeks and increase pilots' pay. The company also expects to have "re-accommodated (or authorised refund requests to) over 95 per cent of the 315,000 customers affected by these cancellations" by the end of this week.

A full list of the affected flights can be viewed here.

Ryanair could face compensation claims of up to €20m (£17.6m) and may lose up to €5m in fares as a result of the scheduling mess.

Shares in Ryanair were down 3.6 per cent in early trading today.

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