Passengers face more uncertainty as Aer Lingus pilots’ pay deal stalls

Carrier accepts Labour Court recommendation of 17.75% pay increase but union yet to make recommendation to its members

Aer Lingus pilots march at Dublin Airport. The industrial action in pursuit of a pay increase has led to 548 flights being cancelled. Photograph: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Aer Lingus passengers faced continued uncertainty on Tuesday as efforts to broker peace in the pilots’ pay row stalled while union leaders sought clarification of a deal meant to end the dispute, which has affected 82,000 people’s travel plans.

A meeting of executive members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa), part of trade union Fórsa, ended without a decision on whether to back a Labour Court recommendation that the company boost pilots’ pay by 17.75 per cent.

Ialpa said afterwards that officials would wait for the court to confirm several points in the deal before meeting again to decide whether to call on members to vote for it in a ballot.

Capt Mark Tighe, Ialpa’s president, said the organisation had written to the Labour Court asking it to confirm that the officials’ understanding of some of its terms were correct. “We hope to have a response soon,” he added.


Sources say the union executive’s decision on whether or not to recommend that pilots back the deal will hinge on the Labour Court’s response.

Whatever position Ialpa officials adopt is seen as crucial to ending the dispute, as its members are likely to support this when they vote in coming days.

Aer Lingus has already confirmed it would agree to the deal, but the union must ballot members before endorsing it.

Should they not accept the deal, Ialpa is likely to step up current industrial action at the airline, where pilots are refusing out-of-hours work and roster changes in a work to rule.

The delay raises the prospect that Aer Lingus could cancel more flights into next week as Ialpa members will continue industrial action in the meantime.

Once Ialpa’s executive decides on its position, it is likely to meet members to discuss the proposals before balloting them, which could take days.

The airline did not comment on Tuesday. It has cancelled 548 flights up to next Sunday, July 14th to preserve as many services as possible during the pilots’ work to rule, which began two weeks ago.

A key issue for Ialpa officials is their understanding of how the terms of the Labour Court recommendation affect different groups within the union, including younger pilots.

Along with the pay increase, the court recommends replacing Aer Lingus’s two pay scales with just one, boosting allowances and dropping an agreement allowing pilots to take extra summer leave.

Both sides must agree to accept the Labour Court’s proposal if the dispute is to end, as the court’s recommendation is not binding on either party.

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

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Ialpa sought pay increases of more than 20 per cent to compensate pilots for inflation, but said it moderated its stance during talks with the company.

Aer Lingus and Ialpa appeared before the Labour Court for more than three hours last Wednesday and more than nine hours the previous Monday. The court issued its recommendation this week.

It proposes that Aer Lingus increase pilots’ pay by 17.75 per cent over more than three years, beginning with 2 per cent backdated to January 2023 and concluding with a final 1 per cent hike to kick in on July 1st, 2026.

There are eight payments in all, four backdated, which will give them 10.75 per cent by the end of this year, with the remaining 7 per cent paid between January 2025 and July 2026.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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