Aer Lingus pilots overwhelmingly reject pay offer

Members of Irish Airline Pilots’ Association vote 98.1% against tribunal finding

07/09/2015 Aer  Lingus
 Aer Lingus aircraft at Dublin Airport
.Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES 
Stock Photographs Up to date Aer Lingus Logo


Aer Lingus pilots have overwhelmingly rejected an 8.5 per cent pay increase tabled by a company tribunal, saying it fails to reflect pandemic-era sacrifices.

Pilots at the Irish airline have been pursuing a pay claim lodged in October 2022 as travel began its post-Covid recovery.

It emerged on Friday that members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) in Aer Lingus voted by a 98.1 per cent majority against a pay deal recommended by a company tribunal.

According to Ialpa, part of trade union Fórsa, the vote, in which 96 per cent of members participated, rejects an 8.5 per cent pay increase plus a once-off 1.5 per cent payment.


Captain Mark Tighe, Ialpa president, said the offer did not reflect the sacrifices made by pilots to sustain the airline during the pandemic.

“Reduced pay, terms and conditions were accepted by Aer Lingus pilots during the pandemic to help Aer Lingus with its recovery,” he said.

“However, Aer Lingus management failed to reverse these measures and return pilots back to their pre-Covid conditions as the company recovered.”

Capt Tighe pointed out that the carrier recently announced “bumper profits” and has expanded to 105 per cent of pre-Covid capacity.

Ialpa is seeking an urgent meeting with Aer Lingus management to negotiate a deal that returns pilots to pre-pandemic pay, terms and conditions.

The union told the company on Friday that it wanted to reopen negotiations on a fresh pay deal immediately.

Capt Tighe warned that any new deal needed to account for earnings lost to inflation and to bring Aer Lingus pilots’ pay level with that offered by the carrier’s rivals.

Aer Lingus confirmed that the union had told management of the vote’s result on Friday and was considering its next steps.

The pay tribunal, chaired by senior counsel Gerard Durcan, recommended an 8.5 per cent pay increase over three years, subject to the pilots accepting significant changes to pay and conditions.

When the tribunal published its findings in December, Ialpa’s executive recommended that members reject it.

Aer Lingus said on Friday that the tribunal’s findings gave it certainty on costs, even though it fell short of delivering the “cost competitiveness and structures” that management believed the business needed.

The airline noted that it was “disappointed” that Ialpa recommended that members reject the pay tribunal’s findings when they were issued on December 19th.

“Aer Lingus advised Ialpa in the new year of the airline’s broad acceptance of the report’s recommendations, subject to some minor clarifications of understanding that would be sought from the tribunal,” the airline added.

Aer Lingus agreed a pay deal with cabin crew last year and also began recruiting pilots for the first time since 2019.

The carrier lost up to €1 million a day during the pandemic, according to its chief executive, Lynne Embleton.

It recovered strongly last year, reporting that it earned a €196 million operating profit in the key holiday months, July to September, beating the €169 million during the same period in 2019, the year before pandemic curbs grounded air travel.

However, the €236 million profit earned in the first nine months of last year still lagged the €247 million it made during the comparable period in 2019.

Aer Lingus will publish full-year results for 2023 along with the rest of its parent group, International Airlines Group, next month.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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