Ryanair pilots not threatening industrial action, Michael O'Leary says

Pilots working for Ryanair have rejected the airline's proposals to forgo their holiday entitlements for bonuses.

In the memo, Michael Hickey thanked those pilots who have already offered to operate during their month off.

He added: "Pilots' rejection of a one-off bonus to work extra hours - a move that management would have liked to pull off in order to lessen the damage being done - has investors anxious that not only may more flights be cancelled, but also that Ryanair is walking into a protracted battle with pilots at the very worst moment".

"We know that numerous pilots in these holding pools are actually Ryanair pilots waiting for a start date and when they get that start date they will then issue Ryanair with their notice".

They are said to be looking for permanent local contracts for all employees. At present there is a risk that Ryanair will be forced to cancel more flights over the coming weeks.

It is also aiming to process 63,000 refunds by the end of the day.

Ryanair faces a compensation bill of up to 20 million euro (£17.7 million) over the cancellations brought about by the over-allocation of pilots' holidays during a relatively busy period.

Ryanair will also need to spend an extra €30m on hiring pilots.

The scale of the bonus payments reflects the urgency of the annual leave crisis facing Ryanair at present.

The event comes amid thousands of flight cancellations to clear a backlog of annual leave for pilots.

There have been suggestions of a strike over conditions at Ryanair, an airline where CEO Michael O'Leary had previously referred to pilots as "glorified taxi-drivers".

The consumer group Which? said that Ryanair's approach "falls..." I say sorry on behalf of Ryanair.

Kenny Jacobs, the airline's chief marketing officer, told the Telegraph: "We are aware of this issue and any customer who has been double charged for bags or allocated seating will be refunded".

Mr O'Leary promised the problem would not recur in 2018 but said there would be a reputational hit from cancelling flights to and from destinations including Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan and Rome, which would not help future bookings.

  • Wendy Palmer