DAA and Ryanair seek injunctions to stop airport strikes

Counsel for the airline argues the proposed action is ‘opportunistic in the extreme’

Ryanair claims the industrial action would affect almost 100 flights and 13,500 passengers. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Ryanair claims the industrial action would affect almost 100 flights and 13,500 passengers. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Dublin Airport Authority and Ryanair have initiated separate High Court proceedings aimed at preventing next week’s proposed strike by Siptu members at the country’s airports.

The proposed industrial action, involving four-hour stoppages at Dublin, Cork and Shannon on Friday 14th March, arises from the long-running dispute over cuts in pension benefits at Aer Lingus and the DAA.

In proceedings against Siptu, Ryanair and the DAA want the High Court to grant injunctions preventing the proposed strike going ahead.

Both Ryanair and the DAA yesterday separately secured leave to serve short notice of their proceedings against Siptu.

Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, argued the proposed strike action was “opportunistic in the extreme” and would result in Dublin airport being shut down during one of the busiest weekends of the year. Friday marked the start of the St Patrick’s holiday weekend and also coincided with the Ireland/France rugby match and the Cheltenham horse racing festival.

The date was chosen to cause maximum harm and damage to innocent parties in what is a private dispute, Ryanair claims. If the industrial action proceeded, it would affect almost 100 Ryanair flights and 13,500 passengers.

Ryanair claims the proposed action is unlawful and amounts to wrongful interference with Ryanair’s economic rights and business interests.

Earlier, Mark Connaughton SC, for the DAA, secured permission to serve short notice of the proceedings against Siptu. Counsel sought an early hearing of the matter, arguing the DAA needed to advise airlines using Dublin Airport about the situation as soon as possible.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said the case should be mentioned on Monday with a view to the DAA’s injunction application being heard on Tuesday.

Union members at both Aer Lingus and the DAA voted for industrial action last month over a €780 million deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS), a pension scheme jointly operated by Aer Lingus and the DAA.

After separate negotiations between unions, the DAA, and Aer Lingus ended without a resolution late last month, Siptu notified the DAA, Cork and Shannon airports and Aer Lingus that its members planned to stop work between 5am and 9am on March 14th.

The planned action would ground flights and lead to closure of the airports as staff in critical services such as fire crews and air traffic control are union members.