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Ryanair's chief operating officer quits after pilot rostering mess

Ryanair has been forced to cancel tens of thousands of flights. Credit: PA

The operations chief of embattled airline Ryanair has resigned amid its flight cancellation crisis.

Michael Hickey will leave his post from the end of October after a 30-year career with the airline.

His resignation as chief operations officer follows the cancellation of tens of thousands of flights from September 2017 to March 2018 due to errors in pilot holiday rostering, disrupting the travel plans of 700,000 passengers.

Part of Mr Hickey's role was organising rosters for pilots.

In a statement the airline's CEO Michael O'Leary paid tribute to Mr Hickey, who joined Ryanair in 1988 as an engineer.

"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."

The statement said Mr Hickey will act in an advisory role over the next three weeks while Ryanair searches for a replacement.

Mr Hickey rose to director of engineering in 2000, before becoming chief operations officer in 2014.

It comes as the budget airline insists that its latest cancellation of 18,000 flights will "eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations", with the CEO previously stating Ryanair was "not short of pilots".