Ryanair’s winter “flight dump” unites hoteliers, consumer watchdogs and Portuguese pilots

Algarve hoteliers, consumer watchdog DECO and the Portuguese syndicate of civil aviation pilots have all reacted to the escalating Ryanair “flightmare” which now sees another 400,000 plus journeys lopped from the airline’s winter schedule (click here).

In popular tabloid Correio da Manhã today, hoteliers association president Elidérico Viegas has stated the obvious: “This is not good news”, adding that all his sector can hope for is that other companies “take advantage” of Ryanair’s chaotic retreat from the market, and reinforce routes to and from Portugal.

As UK media explained yesterday, the new cancellation of flights from Ryanair’s winter schedule will effectively drop the popular Newcastle-Faro link from November to March.

This is on top of the thousands of flight cancellations announced last week (click here) which affect all Portuguese airports, Porto in particular.

In UK Ryanair is already facing “enforcement action” from the Civil Aviation Authority for “persistently misleading passengers” over their rights if caught up in the cancellation nightmare.

But here in Portugal too consumer association DECO is calling for sanctions.

DECO’s fury centres on the fact that at the same time that it is throwing hundreds of thousands of travellers’ plans into disarray, the low-cost Irish carrier is “launching promotional campaigns” in a bid to woo new customers.

Correio da Manhã explains: “In truth, two days before the notice came out cancelling thousands of reservations, the company announced a million flights for €9.79”.

“It is unacceptable”, DECO’s Paula Fonseca told the paper, stressing it is time Brussels stepped in.

ANAC, Portugal’s civil aviation authority, is “monitoring the situation”, but Fonseca maintains this is simply “not enough”.

DECO is thus “closely accompanying requests by Ryanair customers for compensation” which, by law, could range from €250 to €600.

Meantime, Portuguese pilots employed by Ryanair appear to be taking legal action against the company.

Says CM, national civil aviation syndicate SNPVAC has confirmed judicial actions are underway regarding “labour conflicts”.

Pilot discontent and labour conflicts have been cited in this horrible confusion as much more likely to be the reason for Ryanair’s flight dumping than the “mix up over holiday entitlement” that the company has been citing.

Yesterday, Ryanair’s unorthodox chief executive pledged that customers will not be hit by further flight cancellations – but the Guardian newspaper suggests pilots could indeed cause further problems.

Quoting one of the company’s fliers, the paper says pilots could embark on a “work-to-rule” “meaning they would stop doing things they are not obliged to contractually, but which help the airline manage its tight schedule”.

This would end up causing “significant delays and some cancellations”, said the pilot.

In other words, the Ryanair flightmare seems set to continue, as the company’s losses reach new heights.

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