Ryanair tells pilots to take leave in first three months of next year
Ryanair has told pilots that much of their annual leave for 2018 will have to be taken in the first three months of the year.
The airline must ensure it has enough pilots available to fly as it takes delivery of new jets.
It has told pilots, in a memo seen by the Irish Independent, that it was "still working hard on resolving the roster issues".
Ryanair has cancelled thousands of flights and grounded aircraft after it suffered a pilot rostering meltdown that left it with an insufficient number of cockpit crews to operate all its intended scheduled flights.
The airline had previously indicated that it would roster almost 40pc of annual pilot leave for 2018 in the first quarter of next year, which it had said "removes risk of roster problems recurring next year".
"As you know, our rosters were badly disrupted in recent weeks, with major rostering challenges arising from allocation of pilot leave for the last four months of 2017," flight operations rostering manager Neale O'Reilly told pilots.
He added that month-off allocations for pilots would depend on operational requirements, with "significant amounts" needed to be taken between January and March.
"We are still working hard on resolving the roster issues and now have to start planning for 2018, so we can deliver more certainty and stability for you next year," he added.
"We have slowed our projected growth for summer 2018 by 10 aircraft; however, our fleet growth is substantial, which means that much of our pilot annual leave will have to be in the first quarter, when we have grounded an additional 25 aircraft over the winter period," Mr O'Reilly said in the memo.
He added: "The availability for month-off allocation during the summer schedule from April-September 2018 will therefore be very limited."
Ryanair said it does not comment on "rumours or speculation". It will take delivery of 50 Boeing aircraft in the current financial year, which ends next March. Each jet requires about 10 pilots. Ryanair already has about 400 aircraft in its fleet.
The airline will take delivery of up to 275 new aircraft from Boeing between 2017 and 2024.
Mr O'Reilly apologised to pilots for the disruption to their rosters in recent weeks.
"Please understand that we are doing our best to make the necessary improvements to avoid this issue arising again."