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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Aer Lingus and union talks continue in bid to avert chaos

Colm Kelpie and Sarah Stack

Crunch talks to prevent industrial action by Aer Lingus pilots are continuing today after an overnight session.

Management and pilots accepted an invitation to attend the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) yesterday evening, where discussions collapsed in the early hours of Saturday morning.



Tens of thousands of passengers flying from Dublin, Shannon and Cork face travel chaos from tomorrow unless there is a breakthrough between both sides.



An Aer Lingus spokesman said talks are continuing.



"Nothing happened in that we haven't anything to announce at this stage," he said.



"The talks are still ongoing. They've gone on through the night. They're still at the Labour Relations Commission."



Pilots at Belfast and Gatwick have also balloted for industrial action and will serve notice on the company.



Aer Lingus revealed that thousands of people due to fly with the airline have already changed or cancelled their bookings.



The airline remains uncertain whether it will be able to operate its schedule from tomorrow.



"We realise that this is extremely disruptive for our customers and we apologise most sincerely for the major inconvenience this may cause," a spokesman said.



Customers can change flights for between Tuesday and Friday free of charge at www.aerlingus.com.



Ialpa, the pilots' branch of Impact trade union, has said the dispute centres on a shortage of pilots in Aer Lingus.



It maintained rosters were chaotic last summer, with pilots regularly forced to work six out of seven days throughout the high season.



Senator David Cullinane, Sinn Fein's workers' rights spokesman, said a speedy resolution is necessary to avoid passenger disruption.



He called on airline management to address the core roster issues which are of such concern to pilots.

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