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Pilots’ union meets to consider Labour Court recommendation as Aer Lingus cancels 25 further flights



Pilots’ union meets to consider Labour Court recommendation as Aer Lingus cancels 25 further flights

Aer Lingus has cancelled 25 flights on Monday 15 and Tuesday, July, with further cancellations to be announced.

“Customers impacted by these latest cancellations will be given the option to change their flights for free. They will also be able to claim a refund or voucher,” it said in a statement.

“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.”

This comes as a Labour Court response to queries from Aer Lingus pilots about a document that could end a disruptive dispute has been sent.

It is understood that Ialpa and Aer Lingus have received a response from the court to a number of issues raised by the pilots that relate to their understanding of the document.

Ialpa has said that it will not suspend an indefinite work-to-rule while its members ballot.

Suspending action during consultations with union members is considered the norm in industrial disputes.

An electronic ballot is not due to begin until the court’s response is received, and five days of consultations with Ialpa members have taken place.

The ballot may take another three days following this.

It comes as a fresh wave of flight cancellations are expected to be announced by Aer ­Lingus today, as the result of a pilots’ ballot that could end a pay row during peak holiday season may not be known for over a week.

Dozens more flights are at risk of being cancelled as the indefinite work-to-rule continues to cause disruption for passengers. It is understood that a final decision had not been made by the airline last night.

It comes after it emerged that it will take much longer than expected before the outcome of a pilots’ ballot on a new Labour Court pay proposal is known. The industrial action is set to continue during the ballot.

The pay dispute has already hit more than 80,000 passengers, with 548 flights cancelled up until Sunday, July 14.

The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) executive committee met yesterday but no decision was made on whether to recommend the court’s proposal to its members.

Todays News in 90 Seconds – 10th July 2024

Sources said the pilots are likely to immediately halt the work-to-rule if they back the deal but will also insist that the airline first reverses recent decisions, including the suspension of perks.

The airline suspended travel privileges for the pilots and their families “until further notice”, in a move it said aimed to mitigate the significant disruption to passengers.

It cancelled flight privileges including cheap tickets and altered sick leave arrangements following a rise in absences.

Speaking after the meeting at Ialpa’s office in Dublin, its president Captain Mark Tighe said a number of questions were raised by members in relation to their understanding of the Labour Court document. He said there would be another meeting of the executive to make a formal decision on whether to endorse the proposal.

If they back the recommendation, the pilots are set for pay rises worth a total of 17.75pc over a period of four years, an increase in an overnight allowance and a write-off of debt owed to the airline under previous agreements.

“All I can say is that their decision to accept it or not will depend on the reply from the Labour Court,” Mr Tighe said.

He added that a series of information meetings will take place over five days, followed by an electronic ballot over three days.

When asked what he would say to passengers, he said: “At this point in time, I really hope that this can come to an end, and an end that’s positive for the pilots and positive for our passengers and to that end we have made our inquiries to the Labour Court and we hope to hear back from them soon.”

He said the court’s recommendation has to be properly examined and pilots given a real opportunity to make a decision for themselves.

When asked if Ialpa would pause industrial action in “good faith”, Mr Tighe said they had been involved in the dispute for 22 months and it should have been resolved a long, long time ago.

Mr Tighe said cancellations are a ­matter for Aer Lingus.

“We have asked the question before, as to how a small number of pilots not working on their days off has resulted in cancellations of this level,” he added.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson declined to comment.

The phasing of the pay rises that are proposed are a total of 5.75pc made up of 2pc backdated to January 1 last year, 1.75pc backdated to July 1 last year and 2pc since October 1 last year. In addition, the pilots would get a total of 5pc in two phases this year, 3pc in one instalment next year, and 4pc in two phases in 2026.

Aer Lingus has already accepted the court’s recommendation.

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