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Aer Lingus and pilot union to meet again on Wednesday for pay talks as potential strike threat intensifies

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The result of a pilot ballot for industrial action is also due late on Wednesday afternoon. The pilots are expected to endorse the action, meaning Aer Lingus passengers could be affected by strike action by the end of this month.

That could spell chaos for families preparing to jet off on holidays.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) has been seeking a near 24pc pay rise for its members at Aer Lingus, which employs almost 800 pilots.

The airline has offered a 12.25pc, which included 3.75pc to pay for a 2019 crewing agreement.

Talks between the two sides ended on Tuesday without any progress.

“Aer Lingus met with Ialpa today for direct discussions with a view to reaching agreement on pilot pay,” said a spokesperson for the airline on Tuesday.

“No significant progress was made, with Ialpa demanding an unsustainable level of increase in pilot pay (in excess of 20pc) that was not supported by any increase in productivity or flexibility,” they added.

“Aer Lingus offered to request the support of the Workplace Relations Commission in order to further explore solutions. This offer was rejected by IALPA, and they ended the discussions.”

IALPA confirmed to its members that the talks ended on Tuesday afternoon.

It concluded the talks “when Aer Lingus indicated that no further discussion could take place without Ialpa agreeing to productivity changes to increase the pay offer,” it told members.

“Aer Lingus expressed a wish to return to a third-party mediator or the Workplace Relations Commission, which was rejected by IALPA in favour of direct negotiations. Ialpa views direct negotiations as the best way forward, considering 20 months of progress as concluded without agreement.

Ialpa held a meeting with its members on Tuesday afternoon.

An independent pay tribunal last year recommended a 12.25pc increase in consolidated pay and a 1.5pc rise in unconsolidated pay for the pilots.

The Labour Court recently recommended an interim 9.25pc pay increase, with the cost of the crewing agreement to be settled by the end of the summer, it hoped. That proposal was accepted by Aer Lingus but overwhelmingly rejected by pilots.

It’s likely the cost of the proposed Ialpa increases for pilots to the airline would be between €40m and €45m a year.

The increase that has been sought by Ialpa would give the most senior captains at the carrier a near €50,000 pay increase, bringing their annual basic pay to €256,000. With other elements including long-service increments are included, it would bring the total figure to about €349,000.

Ialpa president Mark Tighe wrote to members last week, urging them to stand firm in their demands.

“Aer Lingus is highly profitable and is planning huge increases in profits in the coming years, which many of you have seen with your own eyes,” he said in a letter. “We need now to enter this last stage together, united and strong. I do not take this lightly and management must look in your eyes and understand that we will stay the course and that we will prevail.”

The union claims that pilots haven’t received a pay rise since 2019. However, it’s understood they have continued to move up pilot pay scales, with a consequent increases in their salary.

The airline has warned pilots and the union that taking strike action will have significant and serious implications for the group in terms of capital investment.

Aer Lingus says that “no significant progress” has been made in a pilot pay dispute after talks with their union ended today.

It means the threat of potential strike action continues to loom over the carrier as the busy holiday season starts to get under way.

A ballot of pilots for industrial action has been going on since last week, with the result expected tomorrow. The pilots are expected to endorse the action, meaning Aer Lingus passengers could be affected by strike action by the end of this month.

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