Ryanair cancelled 82 flights today after admitting it had “messed up” the planning of its pilots’ holidays.

The budget airline said on Saturday that it will cancel up to 50 flights per day for the next six weeks, with services at Alicante-Elche and San Javier airports amongst those hit.

Marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said affected customers with bookings up to September 20th had been informed.

“We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that,” he said.

Most of the cancellations are due to a backlog of staff leave which has seen large numbers of the airline’s staff book holidays towards the end of the year.

The airline is changing its holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to run from January to December instead.

Rynanair said the shift meant it had to allocate annual leave to pilots in September and October.

The cancellations could affect up to 285,000 passengers, who will be offered alternative flights or refunds.

Mr Jacobs said affected customers would have been sent an email.

“We advise customers to check the email address used to make their booking,” he added.

Ryanair has said that less than 2% of its flights would be cancelled and the move would help it hit its annual punctuality target of 90%.

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