Aer Lingus settles dispute but flight chaos continues
Published 05/02/2011 | 05:00
AER Lingus has cancelled 30 flights this weekend despite ending a crippling row with its cabin crew.
Normal services may not resume for days although the airline has brokered a deal with IMPACT that means cabin crew who were struck off the payroll will return to their duties.
Aer Lingus said it could not resume a full schedule immediately. It said it had contacted passengers to let them know 14 flights would be grounded today and another 20 tomorrow.
Thousands of passengers have been affected in the past two weeks as more than 200 flights were cancelled.
The cancellations began when the airline suspended cabin crew who refused to work new rosters that meant longer working hours.
Today's cancellations include five return flights between Dublin Airport and Manchester, Berlin, Paris, Malaga and Amsterdam, and return flights between Cork and Paris and Shannon and Heathrow.
Another 20 flights will be cancelled tomorrow, including seven return flights between Dublin and Heathrow, Manchester, Milan, Lyon, Amsterdam, Brussels and Dusseldorf.
Return flights between Cork and Malaga and Shannon Airport and Paris and Heathrow will also be grounded tomorrow.
"Aer Lingus apologises sincerely to its customers for the disruption this dispute has caused over the last number of weeks," it said in a statement.
"We will now be directing all efforts to restore the full Aer Lingus flight schedule.
"This may take a number of days and we will be in touch directly with our passengers through email and SMS should there be any changes to flight times."
Following all-night talks, management and union negotiators emerged from the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) yesterday morning with a draft agreement.
The airline said it had reached a "successful conclusion" to the dispute and could now introduce rosters that delivered 850 annual flying hours, or 16 hours a week.
It said it had provided "clarification" on issues relating to "work-life balance" to the union, and the deal included a commitment to industrial peace until at least 2012.
The cabin crew have called off an ongoing work-to-rule and management have agreed to delete the records of disciplinary meetings relating to the industrial action from staff records.
However, sources said agreement was not reached on two issues relating to the rosters, which have been referred to the LRC chief executive Kieran Mulvey for binding arbitration.
IMPACT assistant general secretary Christina Carney would not comment on what the outstanding issues were but said they did not include changes to meal breaks, which the union claimed had been abolished on European flights.
It maintained that the dispute was not about the increase in hours, which staff had balloted in favour of last year, but other roster changes.
These include a reduction in the rest time between transatlantic flights, double shifts and an increase of an hour in the length of time staff must accept in the event of a delay to their working day.