Aer Lingus cancels 50 more flights as Labour Court talks start

Row over pilot pay continues with over 200 flights cancelled due to work-to-rule beginning on Wednesday and a pilot strike on Saturday

Labour Court intervention sparks hope of end to Aer Lingus pay row. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Aer Lingus will cancel a further 50 flights next Monday and Tuesday despite a Labour Court bid to end the company’s pay row with its pilots.

Airline representatives had “constructive” talks at the Labour Court on Tuesday morning, according to its chief corporate affairs officer, Donal Moriarty.

However, he confirmed that Aer Lingus had cancelled a further 50 flights on Monday and Tuesday, July 1st and 2nd to protect as many services as possible from the impact of the industrial action that pilots are due to begin on Wednesday.

“That will continue unless there is a resolution found,” Mr Moriarty said. He added that Aer Lingus hoped the Labour Court’s intervention would “help in that regard”.


Meanwhile, Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa) president Capt Mark Tighe vowed that the union’s work to rule on Wednesday and strike on Saturday would still go ahead. Industrial action was voted for by the pilots, he said, as the Ialpa delegation arrived at the Labour Court on Tuesday afternoon.

The latest round of cancellations brings 270 the number of flights the airline has axed in an effort to combat likely disruption from the work to rule and strike planned by Ialpa.

Earlier, Aer Lingus chief executive Lynne Embleton, in her first comment on the row with the airline’s pilots for some time, warned that it was “hurting everybody”.

Aer Lingus cancelled flights: Full list of 270 services disrupted due to industrial actionOpens in new window ]

Ms Embleton led the delegation that met at the Labout Court under the chairmanship of Kevin Foley to discuss the dispute.

Speaking to media in advance, she said the airline hoped for progress in resolving the long-running pay row. “This is hurting everybody,” she said, adding that threatened industrial action by pilots was hitting Taylor Swift fans, holidaymakers and people travelling for family events such as weddings.

The court invited both sides to separate meetings in a surprise intervention late on Monday.

Ialpa is due at the court on Tuesday afternoon.

Pilots are seeking a 23.88 per cent pay rise to compensate them for the increase in the cost of living since their last pay boost in 2019.

Industrial action at Aer Lingus: How will it impact passengers?

Listen | 38:37

Aer Lingus maintains that their salaries have risen 23 per cent on average since then. It branded their pay claim “exorbitant” and “untenable”.

Commenting on the dispute, former Aer Lingus chief executive Willie Walsh, said that the row with pilots was going to entail significant reputational damage for the airline and that the future did not look promising for the airline . Mr Walsh is head of the International Air Transport Association.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr Walsh, who started in Aer Lingus as a pilot, added that he struggled to have sympathy with his former colleagues. Seeking an almost 24 per cent increase was “way out of line.”

The situation for Aer Lingus was extremely difficult, particularly when its financial performance was weak relative to other airlines in AIG, he said. Employee costs in Aer Lingus were already higher as a percentage of total costs.

Aer Lingus could not afford to pay “anything close” to the 24 per cent being sought by pilots, he said. “The impact that it would have on the future financial performance of the airline would seriously damage investment or any future investment in the airline.” The situation for Aer Lingus was “very, very risky.”

“I’m sure all of the employees in Aer Lingus watching what’s going on will be deeply concerned, not just for the impact that it is having on customers, but also for the potential impact that it could have on the future of the airline.”

“It’s going to be very difficult to see how this will be resolved. You have huge sympathy for customers who are planning to travel because the disruption looks like it could be significant and ongoing for some time,” Mr Walsh said.

Ialpa last week told the airline that its members would begin a strict work to rule on Wednesday, prompting the company to cancel 124 flights “to protect as many services as possible” from disruption.

The union subsequently announced that pilots would strike between 5am and 1pm on June 29th. Aer Lingus axed further services as a result, bringing total cancellations to 220.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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