Explainer: Ryanair cancels hundreds of flights over next six weeks - here's everything you need to know

Ryanair cabin crew model the airline's new uniforms. Photo: Taine King

Ryan O'Rourke and Gavin White

RYANAIR has come under fire for cancelling up to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks as it moves to reduce a backlog of holidays for staff.

The airline announced yesterday it would cancel a number of flights to improve its punctuality which has fallen below 80pc in the first two weeks of September.

The Dublin-based carrier will offer refunds or alternative flights to the "small number" of affected passengers over the period.

Ryanair also said the cancellations, which amount to 2pc of its network, won't have an impact on earnings in September and October.

Ryanair is mandated under the Irish Aviation Authority to bring staff holidays in line with the calendar year from January 1, requiring it to allocate the leave before the end of the year.

The move will help bring up punctuality back up to 90pc by providing additional standby aircraft, after on-time performance fell below 80pc in the first two weeks of September.

Stock photo

That's been prompted by air traffic control issues in France, the UK, Germany and Spain, as well as thunderstorms, Ryanair said in a statement.

Here's what we know so far:

Why is Ryanair cancelling these flights?

Ryanair is cancelling between 40 and 50 flights a day over the next six weeks in a bid to fix their on-time performance rates.

The airline claims that the decision comes after Ryanair’s on-time performance has declined from 90% to under 80% over the past two weeks, a figure which the company claims is unacceptable.

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said: “By cancelling less than 2% of our flying programme over the next six weeks, (until our winter schedule starts in early November) we can improve the operational resilience of our schedules and restore punctuality to our annualised target of 90%.

“We apologise sincerely to the small number of customers affected by these cancellations, and will be doing our utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds for them.”

How are the "small number" of customers affected taking the news?

Not well.

The move has left customers in an outrage, with many being left stranded in foreign countries.

Shane Collender wrote on Twitter: "@Ryanair Appalling treatment of customers. I had to book my flight home with @AerLingus on Sunday because you cancelled at short notice."

Louis Hervik‏ wrote: "So you're cancelling my trip less than a week in advance because you haven't scheduled in staff holiday? What the f**k is wrong with you!"

Gary Cummings was due to fly from Leeds to Bratislava on Friday morning.

On Thursday night he received a text message from Ryanair, saying his flight had been cancelled.

The only alternative flight he was offered was on Monday - when he was originally due to be returning to Leeds.

"We were left in limbo really," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

Most web users were contacting the airline to ask if their specific flight had been cancelled.

On Boards.ie one user spoke of their anger: "Am really dissapointed. Flight cancelled with less than 48 hours notice and no explanation. Family upset. Ryanair livechat appear to be arranging alternative flight with one connection, then when asked to complete the deal then offer only flight into same country, hire car and they may no offer re-imbursement.

"He then transfers to other agent who asked for detailed account of previous chat and then cut us off while typing after less than 30 seconds

"Now hotel are fully paid and too late to cancel, tickets to Museums bought and bus tickets bought. And they knew this was coming

"They won't even give a reason for cancellation. Probably claim it was beyond their control"

Are there flights to and from Dublin affected today?

Yes, cancellations include to Barcelona (FR6875), to Madrid (FR7526), from Paris (FR23), from Barcelona (FR6874), from Madrid (FR7257), to Amsterdam (FR3102), to Edinburgh (FR816), from Amsterdam (FR3103), from Edinburgh (FR817), to and from Gatwick (FR142 and FR143).

So what can you do if your flight has been cancelled?

Ryanair says that they will do their “utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds” for customers.

Will you get a refund?

Yes, if your flight is cancelled there are two options available to you to choose from. You can either apply for a refund or change your cancelled flight for free.

How can you reply for a refund?

To get a refund for the cancelled flight usethe link below and enter your booking details.


Ryanair claims that refund will be processed with-in seven working days.

What should you do if you are already abroad and my flight gets cancelled?

You should either try and rebook on Ryanair’s website, and hope to get a seat on another flight, or make your own arrangements to fly home.

What about food or accommodation?

Under the EU261 Regulation, Ryanair are required to provide meals and refreshments for the amount of time you are stranded, two phone calls or emails and hotel accommodation if it becomes necessary. They are also required to provide transport to that accommodation.

When will you know if your flight is one of the flights affected?

Passengers will get a text a day or even hours before to say their flight is cancelled and to apply for a refund.

How many people are affected?

It's estimated at up to 9,000 a day, with 285,000 journeys likely to be hit by the airline's move.

What are the politicians saying?

Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson Robert Troy said the decision to cancel the flights without adequate notice has caused deep concern to the passengers affected.

"I'm really very disappointed in the manner in which this decision has been carried out and communicated to passengers," he said.

"Passengers intending to travel today or over the weekend weren't given any warning to allow them to make alternative arrangements.

"I do feel that Ryanair have failed in their duty of care to their customers," he added.

Deputy Troy called on Ryanair to publish all planned flight cancellations for the period this weekend.

He also said customers should not have "to wait for their money any longer than is absolutely necessary".