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Ryanair pilots set to reject O'Leary's £12,000 offer to work days off

By John Mulligan

The majority of Ryanair pilots at Dublin are likely to reject an offer of up to £12,000 for working days off over the next year, it is understood.

It raises the prospect of a showdown with management as the airline continues efforts to plug a pilot shortfall that has caused flight chaos. Adding to the continued confusion for passengers, the airline admitted yesterday that at least one flight - a service from Paris to Dublin tomorrow - had been incorrectly listed as cancelled.

It has also been learned that Ryanair has begun contacting pilots who previously applied for jobs with the airline but did not take up employment with it. It has asked them if they rejected an offer because their preferred base was not available, and if it was, would they now join and when would they be available to start.

On Monday, Ryanair offered captains £12,000 extra for working 10 of their days off over the next year, and flying for at least 800 hours in total.

But it is thought the plea will be widely snubbed - although pilots may yet feel pressurised into accepting it. Pilots at Ryanair's Italian bases are already understood to have rejected the offer.

If most of the estimated 350 pilots Ryanair has based in Dublin also spurn the management proposal, an already tense relationship will be severely tested.

On Monday, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary did not rule out cancelling all pilot leave if necessary in order to tackle the flights fiasco that has struck hundreds of thousands of passengers. Contracts state that all leave can be cancelled in exceptional circumstances, it's understood.

Some are already understood to have had their leave cancelled.

Ryanair insists that its pilots take one block of a month off every year, and they receive an additional 10 ad-hoc days per annum. Pilots have been asked to work at least five of their 10 days off in a single block.

Those who had already been assigned the month of October off were asked by Ryanair chief operations officer Michael Hickey to let the airline know by today what their "preferred availability" is next month.

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