Union calls for ‘meaningful’ increase for Aer Lingus pilots as pay row rolls on

Ialpa says wages should reflect strong performance of airline, which reported profits of €225m for 2023

Aer Lingus aircraft, operated by Aer Lingus Group Plc, pass each other at Dublin Airport in Dublin, Ireland, on Thursday, June 9, 2011. Aer Lingus Group Plc's total booked passenger numbers rose 4 percent to 911,000 in May from the year earlier. Photographer: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Aer Lingus should offer pilots a “meaningful pay increase” after confirming that it earned €225 million profit last year, the pilots’ union said on Friday.

The carrier reported that profits grew 400 per cent last year to €225 million, but Luis Gallego, chief executive of its owner International Airlines Group (IAG), warned that it would stall investment in the Irish company until a pay row with pilots was resolved.

Responding to the comments, first officer Daniel Langan, vice-president of finance of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa), said it was “incumbent on Aer Lingus management to offer a meaningful pay increase to its pilots” that reflected inflation and its strong financial performance.

Ialpa welcomed the growth and profits that Aer Lingus announced on Thursday, Mr Langan added, and was committed to aiding management in expanding the business.


The pilot union’s dispute with the airline over pay is heading for the Labour Court after recent talks at the Workplace Relations Commission failed to find common ground between the sides.

Pilots rejected an 8.5 per cent increase offered by an internal company pay tribunal. They are seeking 23.88 per cent, when the cost of flexibility on summer leave is factored in, while management say their demands amount to 27 per cent.

Mr Gallego described the gap between the sides as “extreme” on Thursday. Both he and Aer Lingus chief executive Lynne Embleton warned that new aircraft potentially earmarked for the Irish carrier could go to IAG’s other airlines, which include British Airways and Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling.

Ialpa maintains that the cost of living has risen 19 per cent since 2019, leaving members’ pay trailing behind market rates. It says that pilots have not had a pay increase since that date. Aer Lingus challenges this and the argument that its pay is below that of rivals.

Mr Langan said that the union was concerned that Aer Lingus spent “millions” on hiring replacement aircraft and crew last year, due to a lack of pilots and engineers during the summer. Ialpa maintains that the carrier should have spent this on increasing members’ pay.

Aer Lingus said it was correctly and fully resourced “from a pilot perspective” to meet its 2023 schedule.

However, the airline pointed out that global difficulties with maintenance, engineering and obtaining parts hit aircraft availability last year.

“Aer Lingus engaged hire-in aircraft in 2023 in order to provide resilience to its schedule in light of these challenges,” said the airline.

The airline says that other staff accepted a pay tribunal’s offer of a 12.25 per cent increase. The internal body offered this to pilots also, but discounted it to take into account the cost of extra leave flexibility agreed in 2019.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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