From the BA
Ryanair has cancelled 600 return flights this winter today due to late delivery of new planes.
The cancellations cover the months of January, February and March and are across the Irish carrier's entire network.
The axing of the flights will reduce the no-frills operator's passenger numbers by 100,000 a month in the first three months of next year.
Passengers affected would get their money back or be offered alternative flights, PA reported.
Ryanair said that as a result of the strike at US planemaker Boeing during September and October this year, all of Ryanair`s aircraft deliveries this winter would arrive approximately one month after their scheduled date.
The airline added that it had been able to meet this four-aircraft shortfall during October, November and December by extending the flying programme on a number of older Boeing 737-200 series aircraft due for retirement.
However, it had not been possible to extend the use of these aircraft beyond the end of December 2005, as the aircraft had been sold and the pilots had been retrained on Boeing 737-800s.
A decision to axe flights had therefore had to be taken, with services returning to normal in April 2006 following the arrival of the last four aircraft from Boeing.
Ryanair`s deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said: "We very much regret having to reduce our schedule to allow for the late delivery of new aircraft from Boeing and the planned retirement of our older 737-200s in December. These aircraft have already been sold.
"We apologise sincerely to all our passengers who may be inconvenienced by these schedule changes, and we look forward to welcoming them on board the new flights from East Midlands and Pisa when the new aircraft are delivered and based there during April 2006."