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.