Aer Lingus to cancel up to 44 flights a day, affecting up to 8,000 passengers

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association plan a strict work to rule from June 26th, a move that Aer Lingus concedes will hit flights and holidaymakers

The airline on Thursday said that it would cancel between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of flights during the first five days of the action, from next Wednesday, June 26th to Sunday, June 30th 'to protect as many services as possible'. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Aer Lingus will cancel up to 44 flights a-day, affecting up to 8,000 passengers, over five days from Wednesday in a bid to combat likely disruption caused by pilots’ planned industrial action next week.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) plan a strict work to rule from June 26th, a move that Aer Lingus concedes will hit flights and holidaymakers, in their pursuit of a near-24 per cent pay increase.

The airline on Thursday said that it would cancel between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of flights during the first five days of the action, from next Wednesday, June 26th to Sunday, June 30th “to protect as many services as possible”.

Donal Moriarty, its chief corporate affairs officer, said this would affect between 22 and 44 flights a day and from 4,000 to 8,000 passengers. Aer Lingus has 220 flights daily, carrying 40,000 customers, at this time of year.

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The company will release details of the actual flights cancelled over the next two days. Most of them will be on routes connecting the Republic’s airports with Europe, but some transatlantic services may also be affected.

“We want to emphasise that this is to protect as many of our services as possible,” Mr Moriarty said.

The airline will begin communicating details of the cancellations and passengers’ options to those affected over the next couple of days

He said the pilots’ planned work to rule would have otherwise had unpredictable consequences, including last-minute flight cancellations.

Aer Lingus will give passengers who have booked between Wednesday, June 26th and Tuesday, July 2nd the option of changing their flights for free. They can also cancel their flights and seek refunds, either cash or vouchers, an airline statement said.

The airline will begin communicating details of the cancellations and passengers’ options to those affected over the next couple of days.

Aer Lingus will also contact travel agents and advises anyone who booked flights through a third party to contact those businesses.

EU rules requiring airlines to compensate passengers for cancellations will not apply where customers themselves opt to cancel their flights and take a cash or voucher refund, or if they change their booking for free.

Where flights are cancelled within 14 days, EU rules require airlines to pay each passenger compensation ranging from €250 for short-haul flights to €600 for long-haul trips, along with offering them fare refunds or alternative flights.

On the basis of Aer Lingus’s own fleet and previous payouts, compensation for a cancelled short-haul flight could cost the airline €40,000, while the bill for an axed North American service could reach €140,000.

Aer Lingus recently calculated that cancelling 13 transatlantic flights last September cost it €2 million, almost €154,000 on average. That would have included costs other than compensation.

From next Wednesday, Ialpa members working for Aer Lingus in the Republic will only work published rosters, with no overtime or out-of-hours duties, eliminating the normal flexibility that the company needs to fly its summer schedule.

Ialpa confirmed that Aer Lingus had not sought to meet the union since it served notice.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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