Ryanair Canceling Flights Affecting More Than 300,000 Passengers Over The Next Six Weeks


Ryanair has found itself in trouble this week after the airline was found misscheduling pilots’ vacation time and need to bring this inline before the end of the year.


The airline needs to cancel roughly 50 flights per day for the next 6 weeks. This will likely affect more than 300,000 passengers based on average Ryanair passenger loads.

Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg (access the piece here):

Ryanair will offer refunds or alternative flights to affected customers over the period, it said in a statement on Friday, adding that the cancellations, which amount to about 2 percent of its network, won’t have an impact on earnings in September and October.

Ryanair is mandated by the Irish Aviation Authority to bring time off for the staff in line with the calendar year from Jan. 1, requiring it to distribute the backlog before the end of the year. That’s left the carrier without enough pilots and flight attendants to man its full fleet of Boeing Co. 737s until the start of its winter timetable in November.

The Irish Regulator has posted the following guidelines for compensation (access here):


Cancellation with prior notice.

Under the terms of the Regulation your entitlement and compensation varies depending on when you were informed of the cancellation.

The airline must provide at least two weeks notice to avoid paying compensation and they must then offer either:

  • an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or at a later date of your choice subject to the availability of seats; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.

If you have been given between two weeks and seven days notice the airline must offer a choice between:

  • an alternative flight departing no more than two hours before your original departure time and allowing arrival at your final destination within fours hours of the original scheduled time of arrival; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.

Less than seven days notice requires the airline to offer the choice between:

  • an alternative flight departing no more than one hour before your original departure time and allowing arrival within two hours of the original scheduled time of arrival; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.

Airlines are entitled to offer a passenger comparable transport to the final destination if no alternative flight with the carrier is available.

Cancellation upon arrival at the airport.

In the event of a cancellation without prior notification the Regulation provides the following: 

  • The air carrier shall provide a written notice setting out the rules for assistance in line with Article 14(2) of the Regulation. In addition, a sign must be displayed at the check-in area with the following text:

“If you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least two hours, ask a the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and assistance”

  • Passengers must also be offered care and assistance free of charge while waiting for their rerouted flight– specifically, meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time, hotel accommodation in cases where an overnight stay becomes necessary, transport between the airport and place of accommodation and two telephone calls, emails, faxes or telexes.
  • An alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or by comparable transport to the final destination.
  • A full refund of the ticket for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose to the passenger’s original travel plan or when relevant a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity.
  • When a city, town or region is served by several airports, a carrier may offer a flight to an alternative airport to that originally booked. The carrier is then obliged to bear the cost of transferring the passenger to the airport to that which the booking was made or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.


Compensation in the event of a cancellation depends on the distance of the flight and the reason for the cancellation.

If an airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by an extraordinary circumstance which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures were taken no compensation is payable.

As previously stated, the distance of a flight determines the amount of compensation due.

If the flight distance is:

  • 1500km or less the amount payable is €250
  • 1500km – 3500km and all EU flights over 3500km the amount payable is €400
  • 3500km or more the amount payable is €600.

If an airline can offer rerouting to the final destination that does not exceed:

  • two hours for flights of less than 1500km;
  • three hours for flights between 1500km and 3500km; and
  • four hours for flights over 3500km

the compensation will be reduced by 50%.

It is very important to note that compensation is distinct from and separate to the notion of reimbursement of expenses and/ or the refund of the cost of an unused flight ticket.


The problem is that some of these routes are thin and Ryanair may not get you to the final destination for days.

As Ryanair is a truly LCC, they don’t have ticketing and interline agreement agreements in place with other airlines to whom they could just move the affected passengers.

If the flight(s) that Ryanair tries to suggest are not appropriate, the passenger may purchase alternate flight(s) and seek reimbursement from Ryanair. Expect this process to take some time and you perhaps need to get regulator involved as well.

Ryanair is required to provide Duty to Care per EC 261/2004 for those passengers that are stranded. This means hotel accommodation and meals in case of long delays. If they don’t provide these, book hotel by yourself and retain receipts. You need them for the claim.

Ryanair has tried to soften their image and become more acceptable choice for even business travelers. Let’s hope that they can resolve these pilot scheduling issues or hire more.