Aer Lingus: Pilots start industrial action due to pay dispute

Comment on the photo, Igiehon Elite Academy, a Wexford-based basketball team, is set to head to Newark

Aer Lingus pilots have launched industrial action in an ongoing dispute with the airline over pay.

Members of the Irish Airlines Pilots Association (IALPA) have gone on strike at midnight on Wednesday.

An eight-hour strike is scheduled for Saturday from 05:00 to 1:00 GMT.

Hundreds of flights cancelled

The airline said it was disappointed that the Labor Court had not intervened in the dispute but would instead review the matter in July.

“Aer Lingus will continue to focus on minimizing disruption to customers caused by IALPA’s industrial action,” it said in a statement.

The airline said it had “made clear that it remains available for discussions directly and through the state’s industrial relations framework.”

Aer Lingus said the total number of flights canceled as a result of the industrial action has now risen to 270.

All regional Aer Lingus flights, operated by Emerald Airlines, and Aer Lingus UK transatlantic flights to and from Manchester will operate as scheduled.

It called on IALPA to “consider the harm its continued industrial action is causing to passengers, the company and the Irish economy”.

The full list of canceled flights through July 2 can be found on the airline’s website.

“The nature of this industrial action may lead to further cancellations and delays and we will contact affected customers directly as soon as possible,” it said.

What do passengers say?

Team member Daniel Walsh said: “We heard about the strikes, so we came an hour early.

“There are about 50 of us who go to the academy and we are all on the same journey.

“We checked with the airline, and our coach reached out to our airline agent and checked as well. Our flight wasn’t cancelled, but we had United Airlines back up anyway.”

The team returns from New Jersey with Aer Lingus as well, but they do not know what will happen.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Daniel said.

Comment on the photo, The scene at Dublin Airport early Wednesday morning.

Ronan Sheridan from Cavan dropped his sister off at Dublin Airport after she changed her flight.

“My sister is going to New York, and at the last minute, we had to change the flight to American Airlines.

“She had some advance warning, so I think it was well organised. She had to look for alternatives herself, because she had to go today. Today was the day she was going. It couldn’t be changed.”

“Lucky enough. It worked out reasonably well.”

At the scene: BBC News NA’s Dublin correspondent Aoife Moore

Comment on the photo, Ronan Sheridan from Cavan was leaving his sister for Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 was busy this morning – something unexpected at the end of June.

Aer Lingus’ bag drop was busy but moving quickly as several staff were on hand to assist customers with large suitcases.

The battle over pay between pilots and airlines looks set to continue.

Aer Lingus is one of the main carriers flying passengers to the US from Dublin, so many passengers at the airport were heading to trans-Atlantic routes.

Many of them booked alternate days or airlines to reach their destination relatively on time.

Most people who spoke to the BBC said that although there was some disruption, they were able to find an alternative flight.

Speaking to BBC News NI on Tuesday, IALPA chairman Captain Mark Tighe said work had now begun because Aer Lingus management had “refused to see the reasonableness of our cumulative inflationary wage claim”.

IALPA is seeking a 24% pay increase.

Captain Tighe said the “acceptable offer” would mark the end of industrial action.

Comment on the photo, President of the Irish Airline Pilots Association Mark Tighe

He added: “The company has refused to see its wisdom and common sense in keeping its employees’ salaries in line with inflation.

He added: “We are not looking to increase our salaries, but rather to maintain our income.”

“It is not unreasonable for employees to want to protect their paychecks.”

He said the work on the ruling includes “some added artificial elements.”

“Basically, pilots who had always been very flexible in making sure planes got home in delays, coming back on days off — some pilots did that, most didn’t because of work-life balance — but as that was taken away, the flexibility went away.”

He added: “For the company to come back and say that it is canceling up to 20% of its flights because this means that it is suffering from a major shortage of pilots, and that it has a problem that they are not ready to address.”

Prominent political figures in the Republic of Ireland called on Tuesday for a solution.

Taoiseach Simon Harris has called on Aer Lingus and IALPA to “engage extensively” in the employment tribunal to avoid “absolute chaos” for air passengers.

He urged the two sides to “deeply investigate,” calling for “settlement, participation, and sitting around a table.”

Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Micheal Martin meanwhile said there was an “urgent need” to find a solution.

He added that the public was ignored by both sides of the conflict.

“It is shocking that they have been ignored, deliberately set aside, if you like, in this battle between Aer Lingus management and the unions,” Martin said.

What do I do if my Aer Lingus flight is cancelled?

Passengers who booked their flights between June 26 and July 2 have a number of options available, the airline said.

Each of them should be contacted via email, SMS, or through their travel agent.

For customers who book directly with Aer Lingus, there is the option to change their flights online.

The company said it would waive the price difference and any change fees if you rebook at a later date.

There is also the option to request a full refund or a refund voucher, which can be redeemed within five years.

Aer Lingus said passengers who booked through a travel agent or third party should contact these companies directly.

“Unfortunately, Aer Lingus is unable to assist directly in these cases,” Aer Lingus explains on its website.

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