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Ireland's Labour Court to intervene in Aer Lingus dispute with pilots

2nd Jul 2024 11:11

(Alliance News) - Ireland's Labour Court is to formally intervene in a bitter pay dispute between Aer Lingus and its pilots.

The move came after both sides were involved in more than eight hours of talks at the court that ended late on Monday.

A formal hearing will now take place on Wednesday with the court making a recommendation thereafter.

It comes as Aer Lingus, which is owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, confirmed it has hired aircraft and crew from other operators, to help fill some of its flight slots.

The company has hired three aircraft, known as wet-leased, to operate on Aer Lingus's behalf.

These include one Boeing 777, which is operating transatlantic services, mainly to Chicago.

The airline has also leased two A320 aircraft, which are operating on Prague, the Greek islands and Malaga.

Both the Boeing 777 and the A320 aircraft are currently contracted until July 14.

The Labour Court has also asked both sides not to engage in any escalation of the dispute.

The developments come amid intensifying efforts to find a resolution to avert further travel disruption during the busy summer period.

The airline and the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association (Ialpa) have blamed the other for prolonging the stand-off that has led to almost 400 flights being cancelled and disrupted tens of thousands of passengers' travel plans.

Monday's mediation was focused on restarting pay talks in the intractable row.

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

Ialpa has indicated it would be willing to accept a lower pay increase but says a significant gap remains between its position and that of management.

Aer Lingus has said it is willing to offer pay increases of 12.25% or above if "improvements in productivity and flexibility" are discussed.

The president of Ialpa Captain Mark Tighe said the group moved on its initial pay claim of 24% but claimed the company had not compromised "at all".

"The company, not only have they indicated that they were not moving off their statements of 12.25%, anything more being financed, they also brought to the Labour Court new demands which the Labour Court have not seen before," he said at the conclusion of the late talks on Monday.

"Having considered all of this, the Labour Court decided to use its authority under the Industrial Relations Act 1990 to have a formal investigation which will occur on a one day event on Wednesday and it will then issue a recommendation."

The airline's chief corporate affairs officer Donal Moriarty insisted the company was trying to find resolution.

"Aer Lingus was open to reaching a solution using all avenues available to it for that solution," he said after the talks at the court on Monday.

"We outlined those details to the court and the court has determined that a formal hearing is the best next step to take."

The pilots have been involved in indefinite work-to rule industrial action that began last Wednesday.

Ialpa escalated its industrial action on Saturday when hundreds of Aer Lingus pilots it represents marched around Dublin Airport during an eight-hour strike.

The pilots walked at 6am from Aer Lingus's head office on the airport site and walked past the two terminal buildings twice holding placards and banners.

Pilots then set up a picket line at the main roundabout on the entrance to the airport.

The flights cancelled by Aer Lingus so far cover dates up to Sunday, July 7. It has not ruled out further disruption if an accommodation is not reached.

Both sides have come under political pressure to resolve the dispute soon with many families expected to travel abroad as primary schools closed for the summer holidays last week.

IAG shares rose 1.1% to 165.70 pence each on Tuesday morning in London.

By David Young, Grainne Ni Aodha and Cate McCurry

Press Association: News

source: PA

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