Who are flying your planes?
Ryanair has a lot of angry customers to placate, due to a series of cancelled flights that are reported to affect 400,000 passengers. We’re not PR specialists so we won’t comment on how this has been handled, but we are HR experts so we do have an opinion on the crux of the matter.
The problem as Ryanair admits “we messed up in the planning of pilot holidays”.¹
Ryanair’s business is seasonal. As we understand it, pilots are encouraged to take a block of 4 weeks annual leave between September and March, out of peak season, with the remainder on an ad-hoc basis. We assume this should leave enough pilots available through the busy periods from Easter and through the summer.
However, there are a couple of further complications: 1) the number of hours pilots can work in a given period and 2) a new regulation that they have to comply with (Irish Aviation Authority told the airline that, by the end of 2017, they must adopt the rules set by European regulators and use a calendar year).
Whilst we’re certainly not providing an excuse for the mess Ryanair find themselves in, the point is, annual leave needs to be managed properly.