Aer Lingus strike looks ‘inevitable’ after pilots vote again for industrial action

Almost all 668 members backed industrial action up to and including a strike

A series of one-day strikes is thought to be the most likely course the union will follow. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Irish holidaymakers face “almost inevitable” strikes at Aer Lingus in coming weeks after pilots voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in their pursuit of 20 per cent-plus pay increases.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) confirmed on Monday that almost all 668 members who voted over three days in a ballot backed industrial action up to and including a strike.

Observers say strikes “are almost inevitable” as a consequence, possibly before the end of June, as there is little sign of the gap between the sides closing, while the union signalled earlier this month that members would withdraw their labour if necessary.

A series of one-day strikes is thought to be the most likely course that they will follow, although they have the option of working to rule, that is adhering strictly to employment terms. This could cause disruption or cancelled flights as it would limit the airline’s resources at the busiest time of year.


While the timing of any action was not clear, the union could serve notice after it has formed a dispute committee and followed other procedures that are likely to be completed on Tuesday morning.

Ialpa must serve a minimum of seven days’ notice ahead of any industrial action. A spokesman said it was considering a request from Aer Lingus for 15 days’ notice, which the union says the airline is seeking to avoiding paying compensation to passengers from having flights cancelled.

Aer Lingus maintains that the 15 days of notice would allow it more time to make alternative arrangements for customers.

The spokesman added that the union would weigh the impact of this on passengers and the airline along with other considerations before deciding on its next step.

Pilots are seeking pay rises of almost 24 per cent to compensate them for the increase in the cost of living since the end of the pandemic, and to bring salaries in line with other carriers, including British Airways, which along with Aer Lingus is part of International Airlines Group.

Capt Mark Tighe, Ialpa president, dubbed the vote “an incredible reaffirmation of our mandate for industrial action in pursuit of a meaningful pay offer”.

The union held a paper ballot over the weekend after Aer Lingus challenged the validity of a digital vote held last week.

Just six of the 668 pilots who took part in the latest ballot opposed industrial action while two spoiled their papers.

Capt Tighe added that Aer Lingus’ intervention had further antagonised pilots. “They are now more determined than ever,” he said.

Aer Lingus warned that any decision by Ialpa to serve notice of industrial action would significantly disrupt passengers and the airline’s other workers. “Ialpa have rejected the outcomes of two independent processes, which have sought to resolve the issue of pilot pay in Aer Lingus – the pilot pay tribunal report and the interim recommendation of the Labour Court,” the company said in a statement.

The airline added that the union had also rejected offers to continue talks and seek the support of the State’s Workplace Relations Commission.

The Labour Court last month recommended that pilots accept increases of 9.25 per cent and continue talks with the airline on deadlocked issues. It noted that the gap between the sides was “significant”.

Aer Lingus maintains that increments paid as part of pilots’ salaries have boosted their pay by 23 per cent since 2019. However, the union rejects this and notes that the airline earned a €225 million profit last year.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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