Ryanair can't rule out further flight cancellations

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The Ryanair chief executive, Michael O'Leary, has escalated the airline's dispute with pilots, saying they do not have a "difficult job" and claiming he can force them to give up a week of leave.

Pilots at London Stansted, Dublin, Frankfurt and Berlin have now been offered an additional 10,000 euros per year, O'Leary told a news conference.

There have been suggestions of a strike over conditions at Ryanair, an airline where CEO Michael O'Leary had previously referred to pilots as "glorified taxi-drivers".

"We sincerely apologize to every one of the 315,000 customers whose initial flights were cancelled for a period of 6 weeks in September and October", said Kenye Jacobs, marketing director of the airline.

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The BBC reported that in a letter seen by it, pilot representatives from 30 of the company's 80 or so European bases have turned down the cash bonus offer.

He added: "If you have captains on the 737s who are in their early 30s and single, [and asked] to fly long haul with Norwegian out of Dublin for six or 12 months, there is a risk that we may lose some pilots to Norwegian". If these pilots refuse to work extra days, more cancellations and trouble could be on the way for the Irish airline.

Mr O'Leary also announced he is planning to slash pilot holidays from four weeks to three with the remaining seven days to be owed in January.

They have written to Ryanair management to say they are not going to accept pay for working on their holidays, and to seek permanent contracts that include pay parity with rival airlines in their local markets.

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The letter also demanded that regional teams be set up to represent the pilots and be recognised as a negotiating partner by Ryanair management, which does not now recognise unions.

The airline says it has already processed refunds for more than 20% of those affected.

"We haven't been sent anything yet", O'Leary said when asked about the letter. It is legally required to spell out compensation rules when a flight is cancelled and, in our view, have so far failed to do that, leaving passengers hunting around for information.

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