Pilots asked to reject interim Aer Lingus pay settlement

Labour Court makes interim recommendation that could mean parties return to talks

A pilots’ pay row at Aer Lingus is poised to continue after union leaders called on members to reject a Labour Court proposal aimed at brokering a temporary agreement with the company.

The Labour Court recommended backdated pay increases totalling 9.25 per cent and that the sides take deadlocked issues back to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) for further talks.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association union (Ialpa) leadership wrote to members on Friday afternoon saying it had decided unanimously to recommend that they reject the court’s interim recommendations.

The latest twist in the ongoing dispute will create uncertainty for holidaymakers in advance of the busy summer travel season.


Aer Lingus earlier said it “accepts the content of the recommendation that was issued and will look to take the interim steps outlined within it.”

Neither side commented after Ialpa’s executive circulated members. The union confirmed it would begin a vote on the recommendations on Tuesday.

Ialpa sought 20 per cent-plus pay rises to compensate members for inflation and other factors, after rejecting a company offer amounting to 8.5 per cent earlier this year.

A crunch issue between the pair is calculating the cost of extra summer leave flexibility for pilots that Ialpa agreed with Aer Lingus in 2019, the Labour Court’s recommendation indicates.

The court notes that the sides “agreed that a ‘debt’ arises” as a result “which is to be discharged in the context of pay increases over time”.

It recommends boosting pilots’ pay by 9.25 per cent in four separate increases backdated to January 2023, continuing talks on all issues in dispute, including the summer leave question, with the WRC’s aid.

“That engagement [is] to be concluded by the end of August 2024. In the event of a failure to find overall agreement with the assistance of the WRC, outstanding matters [are] to be referred again to the court for a final and definitive recommendation,” the court states.

Aer Lingus calculated that factoring in the cost of flexible leave would bring the increases that IALPA sought to 27 per cent, while the union maintained it would be 23.88 per cent.

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The union’s pay claim is based on the 19 per cent rise in the cost of living since 2019, pay in other European airlines and recognition of pilots’ contribution to keeping the airline afloat during the pandemic.

The Labour Court heard both sides in April after talks at the WRC failed to resolve the dispute.

Its recommendation notes that their submissions highlighted the significant differences between them “regarding almost all matters in dispute”.

The ongoing impasse at the carrier has fed all the way to its parent, International Airlines Group (IAG) which had previously warned it could affect future investment.

IAG allocated a new Airbus A320 XLR aircraft, originally earmarked for Aer Lingus, to its Spanish subsidiary Iberia after earlier efforts to resolve the dispute failed.

It came on foot of simmering tensions that have been ongoing now since last January. Shortly before news of the aircraft reallocation, Ialpa had accused Aer Lingus of attempting to weaken its negotiating position in advance of a scheduled Labour Court hearing.

In a letter to members, union leader Mark Tighe noted that Aer Lingus has written to union members individually about the dispute in a “tactic that will not work with our united pilot body”.

IAG also owns British Airways and Spain’s Vueling.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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