Aer Lingus flights resume after pilots vote to end dispute

 

Aer Lingus services to Britain and the rest of Europe returned to normal yesterday afternoon after a five-day shutdown.

All services, including transatlantic flights, are to go ahead as scheduled today with the exception of Dublin-Los Angeles services, which will resume tomorrow.

The restart came following a decision by pilots on Monday night to accept Labour Court recommendations to end their dispute. The company had the previous day agreed to the proposals.

The first scheduled Aer Lingus flight since last Thursday took off from Dublin for London at 1 p.m. yesterday. The airline's operations resumed at the same time at Shannon, Cork and the regional airports.

An hour earlier, at noon, an unscheduled flight to the US took off from Dublin, carrying 80 cabin crew for positioning in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles for the resumption of scheduled transatlantic services today. The flight carried 150 passengers who had been stranded by the dispute over the holiday weekend.

Aer Lingus said it would not be able to resume operations from Los Angeles until tomorrow because of the time it would take to reposition crew. All other US services are due to resume today.

The airline has begun taking bookings again, and has advised passengers holding confirmed reservations to check in as normal. Other intending passengers are advised to contact Aer Lingus reservations at 0818-365000.

More than 100,000 passengers were said to have been affected by the dispute, although the airline estimated that only a couple of hundred people had been unable to make alternative arrangements.

"Most people who booked to travel with us would have been refunded or accommodated on other flights. There were only a handful who would have been stranded," said a spokeswoman.

The airline confirmed yesterday that it would not be docking the pay of pilots for the four days it did not fly after their one-day strike last Thursday.

The company had suspended all pilots without pay from midnight last Wednesday as a response to the industrial action. The spokeswoman said yesterday that the pilots would be paid for every day other than Thursday.

Aer Lingus declined to comment on the dispute yesterday other than to say it was satisfied its survival plan could now be implemented in full, and that it could move ahead to secure the viability of the airline.

The pilots' union IMPACT was also anxious to move on. Its assistant general secretary, Mr Michael Landers, reiterated the pilots' view that the shutdown after Thursday was unnecessary, adding "I think the company has lost a lot of goodwill from the pilots in the way it handled this."