Monday 20 October 2014

Aer Lingus adds more flights to offset damage from strike

Anne-Marie Walsh, Industry Correspondent

Published 21/05/2014 | 02:30

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller

AER LINGUS has added 25 additional flights to its schedule in an attempt to reduce the disruption to passengers caused by strike action.

The flights – which are being added the day before and the day after the planned action on May 30 – come as passengers face the threat of even more disruptive strike action heading into the busy summer holiday period.

Cabin crew will next week decide whether to hold more work stoppages following an initial strike over the June bank holiday weekend.

They will consider a range of options to escalate industrial action, including a longer strike than the 24-hour stoppage due to take place on Friday, May 30, if a row over rosters is not resolved.

Last night the airline confirmed that it has added extra flights to its schedule on May 29 and 31. "These flights will be operated by 'hire-in' aircraft and crews in order to re-accommodate as many customers as possible," a spokesperson said.

"We sincerely apologise to our customers for the uncertainty and inconvenience this unnecessary industrial action by IMPACT has caused. We will do everything possible to minimise the disruption and we will communicate any further changes to customers via this website, email, SMS, social media and broadcast media."

A total of 18 additional flights have now been laid on for May 29 to destinations including Stockholm, Nice, Faro and Malaga.

One additional flight has been added on May 30 to Boston while six additional flights are now operational on May 31 to destinations including Faro and Budapest.

Cabin crew want a 'five days on and three days off' roster, but the airline claims this is "unworkable". There is little sign of a compromise being reached and the possibility of talks to avert the strike has dwindled further.

Disputes

In a message to staff, chief executive Christoph Mueller said he would present details to unions of an in-house industrial relations body to resolve disputes on the day of the strike.

"There is a cruel irony to the fact that on the very day that we will meet to progress this programme, which is aimed at further developing our business, Impact plans to stage a cabin crew strike at Dublin, Cork and Shannon," he said.

He said no other Irish company had conducted so many ballots or issued so many warnings of industrial action over the last five years.

"Through this over-worn cycle, we constantly bite the hands that feed us: the hands of our customers," he added.

He said the strike created an appalling impression of Aer Lingus and a negative impression of Ireland for the many thousands of tourists who planned to visit.

"Hopefully, only some will choose to abandon using Aer Lingus services permanently; but certainly none will be encouraged by this unhappy experience," he said.

However, a message from Impact's cabin crew committee to members said the airline's "apparent belated conversion to the merits of dispute resolution processes might be welcome in the future, but it is not enough to avert a strike.

"We need action right now to improve our rosters and end the unacceptable patterns we have all been suffering," it said.

Irish Independent

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