Families being ‘wilfully’ ignored in Aer Lingus dispute, says Tánaiste

More than 200 flights cancelled between Wednesday and Sunday as result of a work-to-rule mandate

Families are being ignored in dispute between Aer Lingus and pilots, says Tánaiste. Photograph: Alan Betson

Thousands of families who should be looking forward to long-anticipated holidays overseas are being “wilfully” ignored in the increasingly bitter dispute between Aer Lingus and the pilots unions Ialpa, the, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said.

More than 200 Aer Lingus flights between Wednesday and Sunday have been cancelled as a result of a work-to-rule which starts on Wednesday. At least 120 flights due to depart on Saturday have been removed from the airline’s schedules after the pilots timed an eight hour all-out strike to coincide with the first day of the national school holidays later this week.

Flights to some of the most popular tourist destinations for Irish holiday makers including Faro, Malaga, Barcelona as well as airports in the south of France and across Italy are among those flights cancelled as part of the pay dispute. Ialpa is seeking a 24 per cent increase, which it says will cover inflation over a five-year period, while management has made an initial offer of just under 10 per cent.

“I think it is shocking to the degree to which the needs of those who travel are being in my view ignored in the context of this dispute,” Mr Martin said on Monday, adding that both sides needed to “get around the table” to prevent further disruption.

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He said there was an obligation on Aer Lingus to make “every effort” to create momentum behind talks to find a resolution.

The Tánaiste appealed to both sides to think of the thousands of families and people whose summer travel plans would be impacted by flight cancellations.

Aer Lingus cancelled flights: Full list of more than 200 services disrupted due to industrial actionOpens in new window ]

“It is shocking that they are being ignored and wilfully, if you like, put to one side in this battle between the management of Aer Lingus and the unions,” he said. “All disputes end and the most effective way that they end is by utilising the industrial relations machinery we have available in the State, which is the WRC [Workplace Relations Commission], the Labour Court.”

Mr Martin was speaking in Luxembourg where he was attending a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers.

While calls for the Government to get involved in the dispute are likely to ramp up as Wednesday nears, senior sources have suggested there is little point in such an intervention when the two sides were so far apart and there is little hope of a deal.

The dispute worsened over the weekend with the airline accusing Ialpa of “blackmail” and the union responding with claims of “greed” and refusing to rule out an all-out strike.

Aer Lingus management and Ialpa on Sunday said they were ready for talks while blaming the other side for being the stumbling block to meaningful negotiations happening.

Ryanair has added extra flights to and from London Stansted, Malaga and Faro airports next weekend “n response to the pilot strikes at Aer Lingus, which, it said had caused many Ryanair flights to be completely sold out to these destinations”.

A spokeswoman stressed that it was not trying to exploit the situation for financial gain.

“Contrary to some false social media claims, Ryanair has not increased its fares in response to the Aer Lingus pilot strikes. Rather, its flights have completely sold out.

In response it has added two additional return flights to/from London Stansted on Sat 29th and Sun 30th Jun, an additional two flights on the Malaga/Dublin route on Sat 29th and Faro/Dublin route on Sun 30th Jun.

Fares on these Stansted extra flights start at €270 one way, with fares on the Malaga flights starting at €330 one way, and on the Faro flight at €340 one way.

Aer Lingus row intensifies as travel association accuses pilots of ‘cruel timing’ for strikeOpens in new window ]

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times