Aer Lingus pilots announce strike accusing airline of escalating dispute

Stoppage on top of work to rule comes as Aer Lingus tells passengers it will cancel 24 flights a day from Wednesday

The pilots’ move came as Aer Lingus firmed up plans to cancel up to 44 flights a day next week.

Aer Lingus pilots will halt work from 5am to 1pm on Saturday, June 29th, after accusing the company of escalating their dispute over pay. This is in addition to the previously announced strict work to rule from Wednesday of next week.

Members of the Irish Airlines Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) served notice of the stoppage on the company on Friday afternoon.

The pilots’ move came as Aer Lingus firmed up plans to cancel 24 flights a day next week, affecting potentially 4,000 passengers, in a bid to combat expected chaos resulting from the pilots’ planned work to rule, due to start on Wednesday.

The airline hopes the plan will protect as many services as possible and minimise last-minute cancellations.


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Ialpa president Captain Mark Tighe said: “We have been forced to escalate this dispute following a campaign of antagonism by Aer Lingus management directed toward our members. Rather than meeting with Ialpa for direct negotiations to resolve this dispute, the airline is sending letters to Ialpa threatening to cut members’ terms and conditions by unilaterally terminating collective agreements.

“Aer Lingus’ legal representatives have also written to each member of the Ialpa executive committee this week, in their personal capacities, threatening to issue proceedings in the High Court for alleged unlawful conduct regarding an alleged increase in pilot absence due to illness,” Capt Tighe said.

“IALPA refutes this allegation in the strongest terms.

“Aer Lingus has not sought any meetings since the notice of work-to-rule was served earlier this week. The company has made no effort to negotiate a settlement to avert action commencing on Wednesday,” he said.

Captain Tighe added that the scale of next week’s flight cancellations announced by Aer Lingus “illustrates the extent to which the company relies on the flexibility and goodwill of pilots”.

The strict work to rule already announced by the pilots and due to take effect on Wednesday precludes any flexible working, critical to an airline’s operations during the summer, when most people are flying. It will result in cancelled flights, delays and other problems for Aer Lingus.

Their union is seeking pay rises of 23.88 per cent to compensate members for inflation since their last pay rise in 2019 and, they say, bring pay into line with carriers such as British Airways, part of the same group as Aer Lingus.

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

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Most recently, Ialpa rejected a Labour Court recommendation that members accept increases totalling 9.25 per cent. The union served notice of its work to rule last Tuesday.

Taoiseach Simon Harris has urged both sides in the pay dispute “to step back from the brink” to ensure that hard-working people who have saved for summer holidays are “not seriously discommoded”.

“I don’t think there is a justification for that, quite frankly, in terms of the impact it will have. The impact is disproportionate and really, really, really people need to step back from the brink.

“This will affect children and parents looking to go on holidays; it will also affect the business; it will also affect people coming into our country too in terms of tourism,” he went on.

Speaking on the Isle of Man, where he attended a meeting of the British-Irish Council, Mr Harris encouraged the company and the pilots’ union to sit down for the negotiations that they will inevitably have to have to end the row.

“Disputes only ever get resolved by negotiation, that’s how they always end up being resolved. And the question for both parties now is, will they try and resolve it now and show maturity in relation to this, or are they going to allow this to trundle on and then ultimately end up in talks anyway? Talks need to happen, disputes only get resolved by talks, and what I’m asking is, now we shorten the protracted process and all the chaos that will ensue for people, and actually get around the table quickly.”

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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