Friday 20 October 2017

Summer travel at risk as Aer Lingus staff vote on strike

There are fears of summer travel chaos for thousands of holidaymakers as Aer Lingus cabin crew ballot for possible industrial action
There are fears of summer travel chaos for thousands of holidaymakers as Aer Lingus cabin crew ballot for possible industrial action
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

There are fears of summer travel chaos for thousands of holidaymakers as Aer Lingus cabin crew ballot for possible industrial action.

The cabin crew want a so-called 5-3 roster system to be introduced, which would give them five days on and three days off.

However, the Labour Court recently approved the airline's current system, angering cabin crew.

The ballot of cabin crew staff - members of trade union Impact - isn't expected to be complete for another two weeks, and under law at least two weeks' notice of strike action has to be served.

A spokesman for Aer Lingus said it had not been informed of any impending industrial action and did not anticipate any disruption to its schedule.

Last year, Aer Lingus said that a 5-3 system would result in increased costs and could make some of its network unviable, putting jobs at risk.

Rostering

Cabin crew staged a one-day strike in May last year but called off later planned action after the airline agreed it would trial the 5-3 rostering system.

The workers have previously claimed that existing rostering schedules leave them fatigued and interfere with family life.

Cabin crew are also concerned that the airline is hiring an American-registered aircraft, a Boeing 767, to operate the Shannon-Boston route during the summer.

Aer Lingus said it can't use its own crew members on the aircraft because they're not certified to operate on it.

The airline is moving the smaller 757 aircraft that was serving the route to operate an extra summer Dublin-New York service.

That aircraft will still use Shannon crew, who'll be put up for a night in Dublin before the flight and a night in New York on arrival.

It's believed that despite holding the ballot, cabin crew members are hoping to re-engage with Aer Lingus regarding their concerns.

Meanwhile, the airline's chief executive, Stephen Kavanagh, was in the High Court in Belfast yesterday, where he gave evidence as part of a case in which Belfast International Airport (BIA) is trying to sue Aer Lingus for £20m (€30.4m).

BIA claims that Aer Lingus broke a 10-year contract when it switched to George Best Belfast City Airport in 2012.

Mr Kavanagh said the airline only left when the operation at BIA became unsustainable.

Irish Independent

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