Ryanair pilots rejected a £12,000 bonus to work through a cancellation crisis after the airline 'messed up' staff holidays

LONDON — A group of Ryanair pilots rejected a cash bonus to work extra days after the airline was forced to cancel 2,100 flights after “messing up” staff holidays.

Ryanair offered captains a one-off, tax-free payment of £12,000 or 12,000 euros, according to a Financial Times report, and first officers £6,000 or 6,000 euros.

In a letter seen by the BBC, pilot representatives from 30 of the company’s European bases said most want new contracts and better working conditions instead.

The letter said: “The pilot market is changing, and Ryanair will need to change the ways which the pilots and management work together to ensure a stable and common future for everyone.”

It said new contracts “should help stop the large number of colleagues who are leaving for ‘greener pastures.'”

Ryanair decided last weekend to cancel 50 flights a day for a six-week period after a shift to counting staff flying hours over a calendar year meant too many of its pilots hit their maximum allocation.

The changes affect around 400,000 passengers or less than 2% of journeys. The mix-up is expected to cost the company around €20 million (£18 million) in compensation to customers. With pilots rejecting the latest offer, there is a risk of more cancellations in the future.

Ryanair does not recognise trade unions but the letter said it spoke for the “majority” of the airline’s pilots.

Ryanair has been given until tomorrow to respond.

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