Ryanair executive leaves following flight cancellation crisis

Michael Hickey, Ryanair’s chief operations officer, has quit his job with the Irish airline following the flight cancellation crisis that has overwhelmed the company.

The airline has announced that Hickey will leave his position at the end of the month, after 20,000 flights had to be cancelled due to a pilot scheduling error. The rostering problem caused 700,000 passengers to change their travel plans and will have repercussions on the airlines flights until March next year.

Hickey has been with Ryanair for around 30 years and the company’s head, Michael O’Leary, said that he will continue to have an association with it in an ‘advisory role’. In a statement O’Leary said, ‘Over the past 30 years, Mick Hickey has made an enormous contribution to Ryanair, especially the quality and safety of our engineering and operations functions. He will be a hard act to replace, which is why we are grateful he has agreed to continue in an advisory role to smooth the transition to a successor and to complete a number of large projects he is currently working on, including a multiyear engine maintenance contract and new hangar projects in Seville and Madrid.’

The crisis began in mid-September when the company announced that it would be cancelling 50 flights a day due to a problem with pilot holidays, with a further 18,000 flights cancelled at the end of the month.

In an effort to placate and retain pilots, O’Leary has also announced a EUR12,000 loyalty bonus for captains and half of that for first officers for the achievement of certain performance targets.

Financial crisis for tour operator Thomas Cook

British tour operator Thomas Cook is struggling for survival after the number of bookings had fallen and fears the company are having difficultly repaying bank loans of £1billion.

 

Yesterday shares in the German-owned company slumped by 75 per cent after the company revealed they were seeking new agreements with its creditors.

 

Three profit warnings were issued earlier this year after the company revealed bookings were down.

 

In the past year the firm sold 22million trips to families in Britain and 20 other countries.

 

Yesterday executives insisted that trading would continue and there is no danger to its customer’s holidays or travel plans.

 

James Hollins, an analyst as investment bank Evolution Securities said, “Legitimate questions will be asked as to whether Thomas Cook can survive long-term”.

 

In cost cutting measures bosses plan to close more than 200 of its travel agent outlets on high streets, axing thousands of jobs.

 

In the summer the company – Europe’s second biggest tour operator – parted company with chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa.

 

Sam Weihagen the new interim chief executive said that trading had declined in the recent months, with bookings for the winter and next summer being poor.

 

The chief executive blamed the lack of bookings on the Eurozone crisis, which has resulted in financial turmoil, meaning families have cut on luxuries including foreign holidays.

 

Mr Weihagen said the company is a “robust business that has a great future”. This is following the collapse in share price, which since January is down 93 per cent.

 

He insisted the company had not fallen behind with bank repayment and the talks with its lenders were an act of ‘prudence’.

 

Travel industry trade body ABTA reassured Thomas Cook customers that flights and package holidays sold by the firm were protected.

 

 

Victoria Bacon, a spokesman for the company said, “the key thing is that anyone who has booked a holiday with them is protected. People can go ahead and book as normal”.

 

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh