THE crisis engulfing Ryanair is deepening after it emerged thousands more passengers will left in the lurch as almost 30 Scottish flights are cancelled.

The under-fire firm – which claims to have sparked the chaos after it “messed up” the pilots’ rota – faces a compensation bill of more than £17 million for the flight cancellations, the airline’s boss Michael O’Leary said.

There have been claims that Ryanair has been haemorrhaging pilots to rival airlines with better pay and conditions.

And rival airline Norwegian Air, which recently launched budget flights from Edinburgh to the US, confirmed it has recruited 140 Ryanair pilots so far this year which is expected to heap further pressure on the Irish carrier.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Norwegian Air will fly to the US from Edinburgh

In the four days from Thursday to Sunday, a total of 14 flights involving airports in Edinburgh and Glasgow will be cancelled, the airline confirmed.

It comes after the carrier announced it would have to shelve a 50 flights a day across Europe over the next six weeks affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers. Over the weekend to Monday, 13 Scottish flights have already been axed with two flights from Glasgow to Dublin cancelled on Tuesday.

Now the airline has confirmed further cancellations at Scottish airports averaging at four a day.

O’Leary, who is facing a passenger revolt and a slump in his company's share price, said : “There’s a large reputational impact for which again I apologise. We will try to do better in future."

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Interview with Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary in Glasgow. Plus GVs

Around 400,000 passengers would be directly affected, but he said a decision had been made to disrupt the plans of two per cent of travellers to offer a better service to the remaining customers.

The Ryanair chief said the airline would honour all of its obligations to compensate passengers under EU regulations but would not book passengers onto flights with rival carriers. And the airline will not cover consequential losses, caused when travellers are forced to cancel hotels or hire cars.

He blamed a one-off holiday rostering issue, which if not tackled immediately would send the airline’s on-time punctuality below 50 per cent.

He added: "Its clearly a mess."

O'Leary, who denied there was an overall shortage of pilots, said most people would be transferred to an alternative Ryanair flight on the same day.

If not, they would be moved to flights the day before or the day after, and the airline would meet its obligations over compensation.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Cancelled passengers were soon bombarding the airline's social media channels with complaints. Some customers said last-minute cancellations had left them out of pocket due to non-refundable accommodation costs, or with no choice but to book expensive alternative flights or means of transport.

Alice Ryder, who was due to fly to Germany for the Berlin Marathon on Sunday got an email to say her flight was cancelled.

"I tried to rebook on an earlier flight on same morning and you want £21 for a difference in price and £40 for an admin fee. Good one Ryanair good one! Slow clap."

Some 75 per cent to 80 per cent of passengers will be re-routed free of charge within a day of their expected departure date, he said.

But it leaves tickets holders seriously delayed, with possible weekend breaks and holidays wrecked.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation has said Ryanair will have to pay compensation to passengers whose flights have been cancelled with less than two weeks' notice.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

The compensation starts at €250 for flights up to 1,500km, €400 for longer EU flights and €600 for flights outside the EU longer than 3,500km but the amount can be cut depending on the timing of alternative flights and if the issue was not beyond the responsibility of the airline.

Mr O’Leary said: “We will not try to claim exceptional circumstances.

“This is our mess-up. When we make a mess in Ryanair we come out with our hands up.

“We try to explain why we’ve made the mess and we will pay compensation to those passengers who are entitled to compensation.”

And in his normal cavalier style, O’Leary said that travellers saying they will never fly Ryanair again will almost certainly return because its prices are lower.

“Our booking engine is full of passengers who have sworn they will never fly with us again,” he said.

An internal memo reportedly suggests the pilot shortage could continue until the end of the year, although there is no suggestion the chaos will extend beyond October.

O'Leary had said that after November 1, when the lighter winter schedule begins, there will not be any need for cancellations.

In a letter to pilots, Ryanair's chief operations officer Michael Hickey said the firm's crewing forecast to the end of December was "for tighter pilot numbers".

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Is your flight affected?  The axed Ryanair flights to and from Scotland.


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