Dublin: Ryanair has announced it will cancel 40 to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks due to a backlog of staff leave, according to a report by the Guardian.
The budget airline says the measure is designed to improve punctuality, which has fallen below 80pc in the first two weeks of September.
Some customers have reacted furiously to the cancellations, claiming holiday plans have been ruined by the decision.
Denis Mahon, a producer with Irish broadcaster 3News, tweeted: “Ridiculous from @Ryanair. Cancel a flight at 2 days notice – only offer a flight for 3 days later! Holiday plans up in smoke. Thanks a bunch.”
Another angry customer tweeted: “@Ryanair I am beyond annoyed!! Cancelled my flight for Thursday. No one available on your online chat or customer service!! Sort it out!!!!”
The airline is changing its internal calendar as part of increases in holiday allowances for pilots and cabin staff, which has contributed to the backlog.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “We have operated a record schedule (and traffic numbers) during the peak summer months of July and August but must now allocate annual leave to pilots and cabin crew in September and October (while still running the bulk of our summer schedule).
If the airline cancelled 40 flights per day for six weeks at a load factor of 90%, approximately 285,000 journeys would be affected.
The Dublin-listed budget airline next week celebrates the fourth anniversary of its Always Getting Better campaign, which the chief executive, Michael O’Leary, has described as an effort to stop “unnecessarily pissing people off.”
Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers sent emails to the first affected passengers on Friday, giving them the choice of a refund or an alternative flight.
The airline said it would waive a €40 (£35) surcharge normally levied to change flights.