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

The budget airline said on Saturday that it will cancel 40-50 flights every day for the next six weeks.

Marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said affected customers with bookings up to 20 September 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.

Passenger complaints

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%.

But passengers have complained about the resulting uncertainty.

Gary Cummings was due to fly from Leeds to Bratislava on Friday morning.

On Thursday night he received a text message from Ryanair, saying his flight had been cancelled.

The only alternative flight he was offered was on Monday – when he was originally due to be returning to Leeds.

“We were left in limbo really,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.

But customers do have rights under the European Passenger Rights legislation.

“The rules say if the airline doesn’t have a suitable alternative flight, you have to be booked on a rival airline,” said Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent.

He said passengers should also be able to claim compensation for the cancellations.

“It’s a really odd thing in terms of customer care, to say we want to improve the operation by keeping more planes on the ground,” he told the BBC.

Analysis: Ryanair denies staff exodus

By Joe Lynam, BBC business correspondent

Ryanair is the biggest airline in Europe and the king of low cost carriers.

But the new kid on the no-frills block is Norwegian. They’ve grown almost exponentially in the last three years and even plan to set up a new base in Dublin – Ryanair’s back yard.

To rub it in, they boasted last week of taking on 140 Ryanair pilots so far this year.

Furthermore Norwegian said that the newly hired pilots would get, unlike most new Ryanair pilots, a full time job (as opposed to contractor status) and a competitive salary.

Ryanair flatly denies that there has been an exodus of staff and that that might lie behind the sudden decision to ground up to 50 flights a day for 6 weeks.

It says it’s cancelling hundreds of flights due to personnel and air traffic control issues.

What rights do passengers have?

Travellers wait in front of a passenger jet belonging to RyanairImage copyrightREUTERS

The EU compensation rules for cancelled flights are as follows:

  • Passengers are entitled to assistance and compensation, if the disruption was within an airline’s control.
  • Airlines have to offer full refunds, paid within seven days, or rebookings for a flight cancelled at short notice.
  • In addition, passengers can also claim compensation.
  • Cancellation amounts are: 250 euros (£218) for short-haul, 440 euros (£384) for medium-haul and 600 euros (£523) for long-haul.
  • Passengers who reach their destination more than three hours late can be compensated from 200 to 600 euros, depending on the length of flights and delay.
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‘Homer Simpson’ pulled over by police in Milton Keynes

Fake driving licence presented to officer has picture of character saying ‘D’oh!’ catchphrase

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Powered by article titled “‘Homer Simpson’ pulled over by police in Milton Keynes” was written by Nicola Slawson, for The Guardian on Sunday 18th March 2018 13.16 UTC

Choosing one of the world’s most famous cartoon characters for a fake driving licence might seem like something only Homer Simpson himself would do, but this week police pulled over a driver who had done just that.

A unidentified male driver was stopped by police in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, this week and presented the officer with the licence, featuring the character from The Simpsons.

The spoof licence came complete with an image of Simpson saying his “D’oh!” catchphrase, a signature and address. Thames Valley police said in a tweet: “The driver’s car was seized and he was reported for driving with no insurance and driving without a proper licence. D’oh!”

Social media users have pointed out that the man did not even get the cartoon character’s date of birth or address right.

The date of birth on the fake licence is 4 August 1963, while Simpson’s date of birth in the TV show is 12 May 1956.

One person wrote: “Everyone knows that Homer Simpson lives at 742 Evergreen Terrace! Amateur … ” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Stormy Daniels threatened with $20m in damages by Trump attorney

Lawyer claims porn actor, who alleges affair with Trump, violated nondisclosure agreement as many as 20 times

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Powered by article titled “Stormy Daniels threatened with m in damages by Trump attorney” was written by Edward Helmore in New York, for on Saturday 17th March 2018 18.41 UTC

Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeking m in damages from Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic actor whose professional name is Stormy Daniels and who claims to have had an affair with the future president in 2006 and 2007.

A lawyer representing Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants, claimed in federal court on Friday that Clifford had violated a non-disclosure agreement as many as 20 times.

Clifford has said she was secretly paid 0,000 to keep quiet. Cohen, who has said he was not reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign for making the payment, has not explained what the payment was for or whether Trump was aware of it.

According to Friday’s filing with the US district court for the central district of California, Cohen now plans to force the dispute from state to federal court and into closed-door arbitration.

Trump has also obtained a restraining order against Clifford.

Clifford’s counsel, Michael Avenatti, said the threat to pursue his client for millions and efforts to force the matter under the cover of anonymity amounted to bullying.

“To put it simply – they want to hide the truth from the American people. We will oppose this effort at every turn,” Avenatti said.

“The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over m in bogus ‘damages’ against a private citizen, who is only trying to tell the public what really happened, is truly remarkable. Likely unprecedented in our history. We are not going away and we will not be intimidated by these threats.”

The latest turn in the dispute trails what promises to be an explosive CBS 60 Minutes’ interview with Clifford, scheduled for broadcast next Sunday.

This week, Avenatti claimed six other women had similar stories to tell, two of whom were similarly under non-disclosure agreements. He also said Clifford had been threatened.

Avenatti has claimed the non-disclosure agreement signed by his client is invalid because Trump failed to sign it too. If the courts determine the NDA is valid, the actor could face a penalty of m for each violation.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has rejected the notion that Trump approved the payment to Clifford. The White House has also denied Trump had an affair with Daniels. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Crack in Florida bridge deemed no concern just hours before collapse

Safety meeting discussed the crack but concluded the bridge, which later collapsed and killed at least six, was not compromised

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Powered by article titled “Crack in Florida bridge deemed no concern just hours before collapse” was written by Edward Helmore and agencies, for on Sunday 18th March 2018 04.24 UTC

Hours before a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University collapsed on Thursday, killing six people, engineers met the construction manager, state transportation officials and university representatives to discuss a crack on the structure.

The Miami-based university detailed the two-hour meeting in a statement released early on Saturday.

It said the session included a technical presentation by Figg Bridge Engineers that “concluded there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge”.

The meeting ended at 11am. Three hours later, the bridge fell.

The Florida department of transportation (FDot) announced late on Friday that an engineer hired by the university left a voicemail message with the state agency two days before the collapse, seeking to draw attention to the crack.

In the call, which was not picked up until after collapse and has been released to the public, engineer W Denney Pate mentioned “some cracking that’s been observed on the north end” of the bridge but said he did not think it was a safety issue.

The state transportation department also said one of its consultants attended a meeting with the FIU bridge team hours before the collapse. It did not say the crack in the bridge had been discussed.

The National Transportation Safety Board chief investigator, Robert Accetta, said on Friday it was too soon to tell if cracks played a role in the bridge collapse.

“I would have to say that a crack in the bridge does not necessarily mean it’s unsafe,” he said.

University officials have said engineers had performed stress tests to determine the “resiliency of the concrete” in the bridge.

Late on Saturday police said that they believed they had recovered all the bodies of the victims of the collapse. Juan Perez, Miami-Dade police chief, told news media that they had recovered all five bodies of people in vehicles crushed under the bridge. A sixth person died at the hospital.

While police believed all victims had been accounted for, they nevertheless said the search and rescue was continuing.

One victim’s uncle raged against what he called the “complete incompetence” and “colossal failure” that allowed people to drive on the six-lane highway beneath the unfinished concrete span.

“Why they had to build this monstrosity in the first place to get children across the street?” said Joe Smitha, whose niece, Alexa Duran, was crushed. “Then they decided to stress test this bridge while traffic was running underneath it?”

Authorities have not released Duran’s name, but her family has said she died. The FIU freshman was studying political science.

In an emailed statement on Saturday night, the Florida International University president, Mark Rosenberg, said it would hold a moment’s silence for the victims at 1:47pm on Monday – the same time that the bridge went down. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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