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Aer Lingus forced to cancel 76 additional flights; pay row rumbles on

3rd Jul 2024 10:50

(Alliance News) - Aer Lingus has said it will cancel 76 additional flights between next Monday and Wednesday as the pay dispute between the airline and the union representing its pilots rumbles on.

It comes as Aer Lingus and the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association (Ialpa) are to meet at the Labour Court on Wednesday afternoon.

The talks at the industrial dispute body are the latest attempt to bring the two sides together to hammer out a resolution.

Ahead of the meeting, Aer Lingus, which is owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, said the latest round of flight cancellations is being made "in order to protect as many services as possible from the continuing and highly disruptive impact of Ialpa's continuing industrial action".

The airline said customers will be given the option of changing their flight free of charge, or claiming a refund or a voucher.

A spokesman said: "Aer Lingus has had to take the step of cancelling 76 additional flights over the course of Monday 8th July to Wednesday 10th July (inclusive).

"Implementing these cancellations is to enable us to protect as many services as possible for as many of our customers as possible.

"These cancellations will be implemented today, and details will be communicated to impacted customers. Details of the services impacted are set out on the Travel Advisory page of aerlingus.com.

"Customers impacted by these latest cancellations between 8th July and 10th July will be given the option to change their flights for free. They will also be able to claim a refund or voucher.

"These options will be communicated directly to impacted customers as well as travel agents, while the Aer Lingus Travel Advisory page will also have up-to-the minute information on all the options.

"Aer Lingus fully understands the anxiety being experienced by customers given the uncertainty caused by Ialpa's industrial action and is giving impacted customers as many options as possible."

After facilitating eight hours of discussions on Monday, the Labour Court decided to use its authority to have a formal meeting on Wednesday, after which it will issue a recommendation.

The meeting is being held a week after Ialpa began an indefinite work-to-rule, resulting in them withdrawing from out-of-hours services.

An eight-hour strike was also held on Saturday, during which hundreds of pilots marched around the airport, holding signs that read "Two years talking, deal now" and "No pilots, no profits".

The industrial action has resulted in almost 400 flights being cancelled and affected the travel plans tens of thousands of passengers.

The airline admitted the dispute has caused "significant financial and reputational damage".

Finance Minister Jack Chambers said the industrial dispute has been "incredibly damaging" for the Irish economy.

"I think it has caused enormous disruption to many tourists but also Irish people who were looking forward to that holiday abroad," he added.

"I think the dispute, up to this point, has been far too entrenched between both sides. I welcome the fact that they're in a process now in the Labour Court, and hopefully we will get a successful resolution of it.

"But I'd say there's ongoing concern that, if this persists, it's going to cause continued damage from a tourism and economic perspective.

"I'd urge both sides to try and resolve their differences through the industrial relations process today."

The pilots had been seeking a pay increase of 24%, which they say equates to inflation since the last pay rise in 2019.

However, Ialpa said during a meeting with the airline at a hotel last week that it would be willing to consider a lower increase.

But it accused Aer Lingus of not making a similar compromise to move from its offer of 12.25%, without requests for pilots to improve productivity.

If these rounds of talks fail, Ialpa said it will return to consider an escalation of its industrial action.

An interim Labour Court recommendation for pay increases of 9.25% was rejected by Ialpa members last month, and they then decided to pursue industrial action.

On Tuesday, Irish Premier Simon Harris said he wants to see engagement from both parties at the Labour Court and urged them to stay there for "as long as it takes".

"We want to see meaningful engagement and, as I've said, I don't think there's ever been an industrial relations dispute that has been resolved without two things – engagement and compromise," Harris said.

IAG shares rose 3.6% to 170.24 pence each on Wednesday morning in London.

By Grainne Ni Aodha & Cate McCurry

Press Association: Finance

source: PA

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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