Ryanair suspends Belfast to London flights amid ongoing company problems
Budget airline grounding some planes affecting 34 routes
Ryanair will suspend flights from Belfast to London Gatwick airport between November and March amid ongoing staff discontent which is impacting services across Europe.
It says that it will “slow its growth this winter (from November 2017 to March 2018), by flying 25 less aircraft (of its 400 fleet) from November, and 10 fewer aircraft (of 445) from April 2018”.
That includes flights on its most popular Northern Ireland route, from Belfast International to Gatwick.
The airline currently has around 13 routes from Belfast International Airport, with Gatwick being its frequently, regular, daily service.
It says it "plans to grow more slowly (4% instead of 9%) this winter, by flying fewer of our 400 aircraft between November and March 2018".
Ryanair says those customers who have booked on the flights will be contacted today and offered "alternative flights or a full refund".
"If you have not received an email from Ryanair today then you are among the 99% of customers whose flights will be unaffected by these changes," it says.
Asked how many Northern Ireland customers could be affected, Ryanair said: "We’re not breaking out the passenger details by route or nationality".
Ryanair is suspending around 34 routes between November and March, cancelling an extra 18,000 flights in a move that will hit 400,000 customers.
The Irish carrier said that as part of efforts to end a wave of cancellations that has already seen 2,000 flights grounded, it will fly 25 less aircraft between November and March.
That also includes Edinburgh and Glasgow flights to London Stansted.
Other UK flights include Newcastle to Faro and Gdansk.
Boss Michael O'Leary said in a statement: "We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week's flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today.
"From today, there will be no more rostering related flight cancellations this winter or in summer 2018.
"Slower growth this winter will create lots of spare aircraft and crews which will allow us to manage the exceptional volumes of annual leave we committed to delivering in the nine months to December 2017. We will start a new 12 month leave period on the 1st of Jan 2018 in full compliance with EU regulations and the IAA's requirements."
Today, Ryanair pilots and cabin crew have been invited by one of Italy's biggest unions to a meeting in Rome in an effort to organise the staff under its umbrella.
The move is a serious escalation of the simmering discontent among Ryanair's pilots as the airline continues efforts to restore a normal flight schedule amid a rostering fiasco that has led to hundreds of thousands of passengers being affected.
Belfast Telegraph Digital