Ryanair has announced plans to recruit 125 new pilots in "the next week or two" as the airline faces mounting criticism for cancelling thousands of upcoming flights.

The airline has come under increasing pressure after it was forced to axe 2% of its flights due to problems with pilots' rotas, affecting a total of 315,000 passengers. The cancellations are estimated to have cost the airline around €25m (£22m).

The airline's CEO Michael O'Leary said that he cannot guarantee an end to current flight cancellations and disruption, but that Ryanair will recruit new pilots and increase their pay to try to combat the crisis.

The announcement comes just hours after a group of Ryanair pilots rejected the company's offer of a tax-free £12,000 bonus in exchange for agreeing to work on their days off over the upcoming months.

The airline made the offer after pilots threatened strike action. In the past year, Ryanair has lost 140 pilots to rival operator Norwegian Air.

O'Leary claimed that this move had not caused the current crisis. "We are not short of pilots, we have 4,200 of them," he said. "What we have messed up is the allocation of holidays. We don't have enough pilots in September and October to allocate leave."

Ryanair blamed the cancellations on the company's decision to shift its holiday year from January to December rather than the current system, which sees it run from April to March. As a result, the airline said it had to allocate annual leave to pilots in September and October.