Ryanair is offering pay rises to pilots but may force some to change their holiday plans in an effort to avoid adding to 2,000 flight cancellations, though CEO Michael O'Leary denied that pilots had threatened industrial action. Jacob Greaves reports
Ryanair might force some pilots to change their holiday plans to end the airline's cancellation chaos. The disruption fuelled by a pilot shortage Ryanair has estimated compensation claims at up to 20 million euros But reputation as well as revenue is on the line. Airline boss Michael O'Leary has offered pay rises to pilots as a sweetener to help plug the shortage The latest carrot- a 10,000 euro annual pay increase- on top of a bonus. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN STRICKLAND, AVIATION ANALYST, SAYING: "Ryanair pilots are regarded as well paid but equally they work very hard and although the company will make some modest changes to make sure they keep pilots and attract new ones from competitors, there won't be room for any fundamental change." Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers is facing an angry backlash from customers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RYANAIR PASSENGER SAYING: "My actual flight was meant to be tonight actually and I had to cancel to finish my internship in Berlin within two days just to get a flight home." (SOUNDBITE) (English) RYANAIR PASSENGER SAYING: "Not good. If you've paid and you want to go away on holiday you know they should really sort it out." The Irish firm is desperate to avoid adding to 2,000 flight cancellations. But so far it seems its pilots loyalties might be wavering. Reuters has seen a letter from some in key operational hubs, making a series of demands. O'Leary shrugged off suggestions that pilot relations had become strained But told investors the airline doesn't have sufficient spare cockpit crew for the next three months. Around 500 of the firm's 4,200 pilots are set to take annual leave in October. O'Leary told shareholders he takes personal responsibility for the 'operational mistakes' Booking numbers over the coming weeks will tell whether travellers are ready to forgive and forget.