Ryanair's chief operations officer is taking flight after airline's mass cancellation trouble

 
Rebecca Smith
The airline was forced to cancel a wave of flights after mismanaging pilot holiday
The airline was forced to cancel a wave of flights after mismanaging pilot holiday (Source: Getty)

Ryanair's chief operations officer has become the first executive to leave the company after the mismanagement of pilot holiday resulted in mass flight cancellations affecting thousands of passengers.

Ryanair said Michael Hickey, who has been at the carrier since 1988 and took up the role of chief operations officer in 2014, will leave at the end of the month. A search to identify and recruit a successor is underway.

Read more: Ryanair's boss has just written to all his pilots begging them not to leave

The airline's boss Michael O'Leary said in a statement: "Over the past 30 years Mick Hickey has made an enormous contribution to Ryanair."

O'Leary said the outgoing chief operations officer will be "a hard act to follow".

The carrier announced its first batch of more than 2,000 cancellations across September and October, after rearranging pilots' rosters to meet new aviation rules meaning a change in how their flying hours are logged.

And then, later on in in September, Ryanair announced thousands more flights would be cancelled, with 34 routes suspended into spring next year. That move affects some 700,000 passengers.

The airline has apologised to passengers and offered up €40 vouchers to all of them, taking the total cost of the trouble from around €25m to €50m.

Last week, it bowed to the demands set by Britain's aviation regulator to provide details of how it will help customers, after the Civil Aviation Authority said Ryanair needed to do more.

The CAA said the airline could face legal action for breaching consumer protection laws and accelerated enforcement action at the end of last month for "persistently misleading customers".

Ryanair said it would comply with whatever the regulator asked it to do, and had emailed affected customers to explain their entitlements.

Read more: Here's why Monarch pilots can't just make a seamless switch to Ryanair

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