Aer Lingus says pay offer to pilots includes deduction to cover cost of leave deal agreed in 2019

Pilots have rejected an 8.5% pay offer from airline, with both sides due before Workplace Relations Commission next month

Aer Lingus and the Irish Airline Pilots Association are due before the Workplace Relations Commission in February to discuss pay issues.

Aer Lingus says a pay offer rejected by pilots took account of extra summer leave and other entitlements agreed by their union in 2019.

The carrier and the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) — part of trade union Fórsa — are due at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in mid-February after cockpit crew rejected an 8.5 per cent wage increase offered through the company’s pay tribunal.

Aer Lingus maintains that the offer took into account extra summer leave and other entitlements that Ialpa negotiated in 2019, when it agreed that pilots would “compensate” it for those concessions in the next deal negotiated through the pay tribunal system.

“As such, the funding of that 2019 agreement was to be addressed in the current tribunal recommendations with the agreement of pilots,” the airline added.


The company noted that the tribunal, chaired by senior counsel Gerard Durcan, recommended that pilots get a 12.25 per cent pay increase, which is what Aer Lingus agreed with cabin crew. The tribunal then deducted 3.75 per cent to fund the cost of the 2019 agreement “as agreed by pilots”, noted Aer Lingus.

That resulted in the tribunal offering 8.5 per cent, which the Ialpa executive recommended that members reject. Slightly more than 98 per cent of them voted against the proposed deal.

Aer Lingus sought the WRC’s intervention following the ballot. The airline stressed on Monday that it was “committed to discussions continuing” in the commission.

Ialpa responded that Aer Lingus pilots had not had a pay increase since 2019, while the cost of living has risen by 19 per cent over that period.

First officer Daniel Langan, Ialpa’s vice-president of finance, noted that public service pay deals reflected recent inflation.

He argued that Aer Lingus pilots had accepted an effective 70 per cent pay cut after Covid curbs grounded airlines in March 2020.

The cut in basic salary was 50 per cent, but the union maintains that the loss of extra allowances left pilots with 30 per cent of normal take-home pay.

Mr Langan also said that new pilot recruits are on a lower pay scale, something the union “cannot countenance”.

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It is understood that Aer Lingus calculates that it had to hire 47 new pilots to cover the extra summer leave agreed in 2019.

The pay tribunal at which the company and pilots were due to work out how to fund that concession was scheduled for 2020, but the pandemic struck, ruling this out.

Aer Lingus cut pilots’ pay by half in March 2020 but agreed that there would be no redundancies. The carrier did lay off some cabin crew during the pandemic.

In 2021, pilots agreed a new scale that cut pay by 10 per cent. However, the company subsequently agreed to restore pre-pandemic pay to existing pilots in 2022, while recruits would be hired on the reduced scale.

Aer Lingus established the pay tribunal, which was originally meant to meet in 2020, last year. The company maintains that the union agreed in 2019 that this mechanism would be used to determine how to compensate it for the key concession on summer leave for pilots.

However, Ialpa argues that the airline has not taken concessions made by its members during the pandemic into account. There is no indication of how long the talks at the WRC are likely to last.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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