On Friday, Ryanair announced that Michael Hickey, the chief operations officer of the airline, will leave the airlines at the end of the month, becoming the first executive to resign since a rostering mess-up caused the cancellation of thousands of flights.
Ryanair, an Irish airline that is the largest in Europe in term of the number of passengers, has disrupted the plans of over 700,000 passengers in recent weeks by its failure to have enough standby pilots to assure the smooth operation of its schedule.
Hickey was the one responsible for rosters when the disruptions started. However, that function was taken over by Edward Wilson, Ryanair’s Chief People Officer on September 27 when the airline declared the second wave of its cancellations.
“Over the past 30 years Mick Hickey has made an enormous contribution to Ryanair, especially the quality and safety of our engineering and operations functions. He will be a hard act to replace,” said Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair chief executive, in a statement.
O’Leary informed the annual shareholder meeting of Ryanair last month that while the shortages were produced by mismanagement in its rostering section, he accepted personal responsibility for the “cock up.”
O’Leary, when asked by an investor at the September 21 meeting if he had made changes to the rostering department, stated that it was “not the time to be taking people out and shooting them.”
Hickey entered Ryanair as an engineer in 1988 when the airline was far from being the dominant carrier it is today. In 2000, he became Director of Engineering before taking over as Chief Operations Officer three years ago.
Ryanair announced that it would begin the process of identifying and recruiting a successor and that over the next three weeks, Hickey would hand over his responsibilities.
On Thursday, Ryanair promised their pilots significant improvements in pay. The airline has been struggling to appease its pilots after customer outrage, and a wave of negative media coverage across Europe was sparked by the cancellations.
Ryanair has stated that reports regarding its pilot shortage were not true and that less than 260 of its 4,200 pilots had resigned so far in 2017 amid some being recruited by rival Norwegian Air Shuttle.
In a separate statement made on Friday, Ryanair announced that it had hired 210 new pilots in the past 12 weeks, bringing the number of those who have joined since the start of the year to 822.