Failure to correctly plan pilots' holidays will result in Ryanair cancelling hundreds of flights over the next six weeks.

With a backlog of staff holiday arising from changes to the holiday calendar year, Ryanair has had to allocate annual leave to pilots in September and October this year. The airline is changing its holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to run from January to December following changes imposed by the Irish Aviation Authority, in line with European law.

As demand for short-haul flights usually peaks between March and September, pilots are encouraged to take holiday time outside this period. However, Flight Time Limitations (FTL) set the maximum hours that pilots can work. While Ryanair has asked pilots to sell back their annual leave, this may not be possible if pilots cannot work longer hours under the FTL. On this occasion planning rosters to ensure that pilots keep within FTL has brought its challenges.

It is an expensive lesson for Ryanair and a reminder to all employers to ensure that holiday is correctly administered and that staff taking annual leave at the same time does not cause a detrimental effect on the day-to-day business.

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