Ryanair is cancelling another 18,000 flights between November and March, affecting 400,000 passengers.
The airline said it had emailed all of the customers affected, offering them the choice between a refund or an alternative flight. They will also receive a travel voucher for £40 one-way or £80 return that can be used to book a Ryanair flight for travel between October and March 2018.
It announced the temporary suspension of 34 routes over the winter, including London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas.
The move means further disruption for Ryanair passengers after the no-frills carrier announced plans this month to cancel up to 50 flights a day until 31 October, citing a “mess-up” in how it schedules time off for pilots. The move affected 315,000 customers.
Announcing the latest cancellations on Wednesday, the airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, apologised to customers for the second time this month but said the changes were “sensible”.
“We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today,” he said.
“From today, there will be no more rostering-related flight cancellations this winter or in summer 2018. Slower growth this winter will create lots of spare aircraft and crews which will allow us to manage the exceptional volumes of annual leave we committed to delivering in the nine months to Dec 2017. We will start a new 12-month leave period on 1 January 2018 in full compliance with EU regulations and the IAA’s requirements.”
The airline said cancelling thousands of flights over the winter would eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations. It put the total cost to the business associated with the two waves of cancellations at less than €50m (£44m).
Ryanair is also pulling out of its plans to bid for Alitalia, Italy’s bankrupt airline. “In order to focus on repairing this rostering problem this winter, Ryanair will eliminate all management distractions starting with its interest in Alitalia,” the company said.
Hannah Maundrell, editor-in-chief of money.co.uk, said the latest flight cancellations were frustrating for customers.
“It’s so disappointing for Ryanair passengers whose flights have been cancelled, even with more notice this time it’s still seriously frustrating. Ryanair are still in a mess here, but you shouldn’t be left out of pocket,” she said.
“If your flight has been cancelled, ask for a refund. You should get your money back within seven days or given an alternative flight. This should also apply to connecting flights you miss as a result, as long as they were booked together.”