Ryanair bosses hold AGM as exodus of pilots feared

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary speaks during the company's AGM at the airline's Dublin headquarters, where the crisis over pilot shortages and warnings that crews are rejecting cash bonuses to commit to the airline will be addressed
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary speaks during the company's AGM at the airline's Dublin headquarters, where the crisis over pilot shortages and warnings that crews are rejecting cash bonuses to commit to the airline will be addressed

Ryanair bosses go head to head with shareholders today to address a crisis over pilot shortages and warnings that crews are rejecting cash bonuses to commit to the airline.

The company holds its AGM in its Dublin headquarters this morning amid reports of the widespread rejection by flight crews of offers of £12,000 and 12,000 euro for captains and half that for first officers to stay with the carrier.

A Ryanair plane

A Ryanair plane

Ryanair is facing a multi-million compensation bill for cancelled flights after it revealed it was shelving up to 50 flights every day over the next six weeks.

The airline said the cancellations were brought about by the over-allocation of pilots' holidays during a relatively busy period.

Replying to reports that pilots were roundly rejecting the cash bonus offer, a spokesman for Ryanair said: "We will address this at the AGM today."

The Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa) claimed that 140 Ryanair pilots left for Norwegian Air in recent weeks and months.

It also said other pools of pilots are on standby to move across Europe after accepting jobs with other airlines and waiting for start dates before handing in their notices.

The bill for the compensation for passengers left stranded and forced to re-book could reach 20 million euro (£17.7 million.

But passengers have been reporting problems with the process of refunds and compensation for cancelled flights, saying information supplied by the airline is incorrect and calls are going unanswered.

Angry customers inundated Ryanair's Facebook page and many are also complaining their calls and messages through the airline's call centre and online "chat" service are going unanswered or being cut off.

The airline said it was aware of the issue and any customers who were double-charged for seats or hold luggage will be refunded.

While the AGM was planned to go through run of the mill corporate governance on accounts, executive pay, election of directors and share purchases, the meeting is also expected to feature questions over the handling of the crisis.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary will be in attendance. He has accepted the debacle had a "large reputational impact" on the airline and apologised.

Ryanair said all 315,000 customers affected by the cancellations received an email on Monday advising them of their flight changes and offering alternative flights, refunds and EU261 notices.

The airline said it expected to have re-accommodated more than 175,000 customers on other Ryanair flights and to have processed refunds for more than 20% of those affected by close of business on Wednesday.