Michael O’Leary ‘very contrite’ over Ryanair flight cancellations

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is “very contrite” over the rolling flight cancellation programme, Transport Minister Shane Ross said in London, but the problem “should have been foreseen”.

The minister revealed yesterday he had spoken to Mr O’Leary at the weekend.

He said: “I expressed the Government’s concerns about passengers.

“Mr O’Leary said to me that Ryanair had come out publicly with its hands up, and was absolutely determined to compensate people fully and properly.

“There was no question of them not complying as rapidly as possible. It was a surprise, it was a shock, and the passengers who have been inconvenienced will be fully compensated,” he said.

“We have been in contact of course with the regulator, the Commission on Aviation Regulation and with the IAA [Irish Aviation Authority] to ensure this happens, and Michael O’Leary is co-operating fully. He was contrite, and he was quite adamant they had had a very good run up to this, but he was contrite in a very colourful way.

“And he was contrite before I spoke to him. He is doing very seriously what is absolutely necessary.”

But Mr Ross added: “You’ve got to remember that Ryanair has done Ireland and consumers a very great service in the past. I am sure that its reputation and Ireland’s reputation will be fully restored as soon as possible. But my view is that it should have been foreseen, and what happened was unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, John Horne, vice president of the European Cockpit Association, has said joint letters sent by Ryanair pilots from numerous European bases are “crystal clear” and that the pilots are taking a “firm and unified stance” and want decent working conditions and direct employment contracts.

His comments yesterday came as dozens of Ryanair staff at bases around Europe rejected bonus and pay rise offers to buy back annual leave in order to reduce the number of flight cancellations planned for between now and the end of October, which was caused by the over-rostering of pilots.

Meanwhile, an insurance expert has warned passengers that the majority of standard travel insurance policies will not cover them if they are unable to travel because an airline cancels a flight.

“Whilst you can reasonably expect the airline to refund you for the cost of your flight, you could find yourself seriously out of pocket if you are unable to use your pre-booked holiday accommodation car hire or theme park tickets,” Fiona Macrae of Travel Insurance said. “We would urge anyone buying a travel insurance policy to look for one that provides cover for cancellation due to ‘any cause beyond your reasonable control’.”

At lunchtime yesterday, Ryanair published an updated list of cancelled flights and stated that punctuality at the airline had improved to 96% last week.

“We again apologise sincerely to each of the 315,000 customers whose original flights were cancelled over a six-week period in September and October. More than 97% of affected customers have now been re-accommodated, and the remaining 3% [less than 10,000 customers] are urged to get in contact regarding their rebooking or refunding options,” said Kenny Jacobs on behalf of Ryanair.

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