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Oct 7, 11:51 AM EDT

Ryanair's operations chief to step down after cancellations

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LONDON (AP) -- The chief operations officer of Ryanair has announced plans to leave his post at the end of October following the cancellation of tens of thousands of flights scheduled for the coming months.

Company officials said Saturday that Michael Hickey will still have an "advisory role" after he steps down following decades with the airline.

He is the first senior executive to leave because of the damaging flight cancellations, which have disrupted travel plans for an estimated 700,000 passengers and undercut the company's bid to improves its customer service reputation.

The flights were cancelled because of holiday staffing and scheduling errors.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said Hickey had made an "enormous contribution" to the airline in the last 30 years.

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