Industrial action at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority in the run-up to St Patrick's Day and during international rugby fixtures is being contemplated by staff as they prepare to begin balloting over a long-running pension crisis.
Trade union Siptu has agreed to start balloting on Monday for industrial action at Aer Lingus, the DAA and Shannon Airport.
Siptu claimed the decision to ballot staff is a "result of the failure of the employers to engage in meaningful discussions on the deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS)".
The IASS, a defined benefit scheme, which serves thousands of current and former staff at Aer Lingus and the DAA, has a deficit of around €800m. Most of the 4,270 combined Aer Lingus, DAA and Shannon staff who are active members of the IASS are represented by Siptu.
Siptu organiser Dermot O'Loughlin told members: "There is extreme anger now among the employees of Aer Lingus, DAA and the Shannon Airport Authority that after three years of an industrial relations process, the pensions crisis, if anything, has worsened at a time when financial market conditions are improving."
It has also emerged that trade union Impact, which also represents staff at the companies, is likely to begin meetings in the near future with its members also with a view to holding ballots due to the pension issue.
A spokesman for the DAA said the potential threat of industrial action is "unnecessary" at this time and that a resolution to the pensions issue should be pursued through negotiation.
Aer Lingus declined to comment.