Aer Lingus cancels further flights as Covid outbreak continues

Two return flights between Dublin and Zurich, and Cork and London cancelled

Aer Lingus cancelled two return flights from Dublin on Thursday as a Covid-19 outbreak among staff continued to disrupt travel.

The affected flights were running between Dublin and Zurich, and Cork and Heathrow. Aer Lingus said Friday’s flights were due to operate as scheduled, but cautioned the conditions prompting cancellations remain in place.

The Irish carrier has been wrestling with the fallout from a surge in virus cases that has hit crews for almost two weeks. Aer Lingus has cancelled flights on most days since the Covid outbreak became an issue.

On Wednesday, the airline cancelled five return flights to Britain and Germany, including two services between Dublin and Heathrow, and one each between Dublin and Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich.

“Aer Lingus anticipated the return of demand for travel once Covid restrictions were removed and built appropriate buffers into our plans in order to deal with a reasonable level of additional disruption,” the airline said in a statement. “System pressures and ongoing issues at some airports and among third party suppliers have created considerable operational challenges which have been compounded by a significant spike in Covid cases in recent days.”

Separately, British Airways (BA) has avoided a damaging summer strike after agreeing a “vastly improved” pay deal, according to unions, a boost to the airline that has been forced to cancel thousands of flights this year.

The Unite union said a dispute affecting check-in staff at London’s Heathrow airport “has been suspended” after the company made a new offer on pay. Staff will instead be balloted on the sweetened pay deal.

“We welcome that BA has finally listened to the voice of its check-in staff. Unite has repeatedly warned that pay disputes at BA were inevitable unless the company took our members’ legitimate grievances seriously,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

The GMB union, whose members were also set to strike, has agreed a deal with BA, according to a union official.

About 700 BA check-in crew at Heathrow had voted to strike last month, with unions promising “severe disruption” timed to coincide with the summer rush to fly abroad. — Additional reporting: Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist