Aer Lingus Regional pilots vote to strike

Majority of Emerald Airlines union members voted in favour of industrial action

Aer Lingus Regional pilots have voted to strike in a dispute over pay, conditions and union recognition.

Members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) in Emerald Airlines have been voting over the past week on whether to take industrial action, including a strike, at the airline that flies the Aer Lingus Regional network.

The organisation, affiliated to trade union Fórsa, confirmed on Thursday that 82 per cent of those polled voted in favour of industrial action.

IALPA has 52 members in Emerald from a total of 140 pilots. According to the union, 94 per cent of them voted.


The union is now likely to consider its next steps, said a spokesman. Industrial relations law obliges unions to give employers at least one week’s notice of strike.

IALPA sought a meeting with management several weeks ago to discuss pay, conditions and collective bargaining at the airline. While the company responded, it did not agree to meet.

Owen Kelly, IALPA principal officer, subsequently accused Emerald of refusing to recognise the union.

Emerald did not comment on Thursday. However, the company recently said that its pilots had won concessions in talks between the airline and its internal employee representative group, with it maintained they were making “good progress”.

The airline questioned the motivation for what it called IALPA’s “surprise” move, which came as the industry was heading into the busy summer period.

IALPA/Fórsa argued that the airline’s refusal to engage in collective bargaining with the union left it “out of touch” with its industry.

Emerald Airlines is a separate company to Aer Lingus but has been operating the larger carrier’s regional network since March 2022 under a deal agreed between the pair the previous year.

Aer Lingus sells the tickets but Emerald owns the aircraft, which are branded “Aer Lingus Regional”, and employs the pilots and cabin crew. It has bases in Dublin Airport and Belfast City Airport.

The 30-route network mainly covers Ireland, Britain and the Channel Islands, but recently expanded into Brittany with a service from Dublin to Brest. It is offering 2.5 million seats on its aircraft this year.

Its Dublin flights provide some transfer passengers for Aer Lingus transatlantic services from the capital’s airport.

Well-known aviation entrepreneur, Conor McCarthy, founded Emerald Airlines. He chairs the business, which is now run by chief executive Keith Butler.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas