Ryanair reassigns flights for half of affected customers

People walk to board a Ryanair flight at Stansted Airport northeast of London Britain

Thousands of Ryanair flights are being cancelled due to an issue with staff leave.

The airline reportedly offered its existing pilots a tax-free bonus of £12,000 in exchange for agreeing to work extra days, in order to avoid having to cancel even more flights.

Ryanair said Thursday it expects to have re-accommodated or refunded more than 95 percent of customers by the end of this week.

Ryanair passengers have been left stranded for days at a time, with some desperate to get back to young children and others racking up huge and unexpected bills as they are forced to stay overseas for longer than planned.

O'Leary later insisted there were no problems between the company and the pilots and that if they misbehave "that will be the end of the goodies".

Pilots at London Stansted, Dublin, Frankfurt and Berlin have now been offered an additional 10,000 euros per year, O'Leary told a news conference.

Ryanair will force pilots to delay planned annual leave as it battles to overcome shortages in coming weeks. However Michael O'Leary has told the Ryanair AGM that pilots "do not want unionisation".

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary rejected claims an exodus of pilots to rivals was behind what he described as a "mess of our own making".

In addition, from October 1, all Ryanair-employed pilots will receive an increase in their out of base overnight payments from €28 to €75 of tax per overnight, with further increases in out of base allowances.

He is planning to take back one week of its pilots' holidays to prevent any further flight cancellations, boss Michael O'Leary has revealed. Compensation and lost fares for the cancelled flights will cost €25m ($30m). "Every airline around the world knows that the pilot market is tightening and has been tightening for a number of years".

In better news for the carrier, the meeting saw shareholders approved all resolutions by substantial majorities.

Customers affected by cancellations which run until October 28 will be emailed offers of alternatives or full refunds and details of their compensation entitlement, the budget airline confirmed.

He again apologised for the disruption, which he said was down to mismanagement of the pilots' rostering system.

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