Long-running row over definition of calendar year behind Ryanair cancellations

Last year’s settlement of a long-standing dispute between Ryanair and the Irish Aviation Authority over the definition of the phrase “Calendar Year” is one astounding reason for some of the mayhem which Ryanair unleashed on the travelling public .

Officially Ryanair cited punctuality problems for an unprecedented rolling programme of flight cancellations. At least a quarter of million passengers, and possibly as many as 378,000 people may be unexpectedly grounded as a result. Some cancellations are expected to be announced just hours beforehand giving passengers little warning.

In reality, the airline is critically short of pilots and has been for some time, despite a constant roll-out of new routes and bases throughout Europe.

A measure of its manpower difficulties could be gleaned from a recent desperate appeal to pilots to cancel their holidays and resume working in a bid to protect “the integrity of the operation.”

The unusual appeal was issued in a fax to pilots last Wednesday by Michael Hickey, Ryanair’s Chief Operations Officer. He wrote of “an imposed transition on our normal leave years” which has created “short term challenges”.

He was in fact referring to an agreement which the airline reached with the Irish Aviation Authority and the European Air Safety Agency as early as mid-2016 whereby Ryanair finally agreed to fall in line with long established European safety standards whereby the airline pilot operational year starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st. Hitherto Ryanair insisted its operational year commenced on April 1st.

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