Aer Lingus pilots to get update on crunch pay talks
Strike fears as holiday season reaches its peak
Hundreds of Aer Lingus pilots will be updated today about ongoing talks aimed at solving a pay and pensions row.
Over 400 pilots held a ballot in May, when they approved taking industrial action if the talks broke down.
There have been fears that pilots could target some kind of action over the busy August bank holiday weekend, but no date has been set for any action and Aer Lingus has not been formally notified of the outcome of the ballot.
The pilots would have to give two weeks' notice to Aer Lingus of any action they intended to take.
It is understood that talks between the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) and Aer Lingus management were continuing yesterday. They were being chaired by independent barrister Gerry Durkan. Pilots will be updated today at a general meeting.
An annual increment wasn't paid to pilots in April, stoking tensions between the two sides.
As with other Aer Lingus staff, pilots agreed to a pay deal under the airline's now completed 'Project Greenfield' plan that took more than €100m a year in costs out of the carrier. They took a 12pc pay cut and agreed to a three-year pay freeze which ended last January.
Pilots now want the reintroduction of an annual pay increment and an 11pc pay rise.
Aer Lingus pilots currently earn between €54,000 and €181,000 a year.
Negotiations involving the pilots are separate to the talks Aer Lingus has had in relation to a pension scheme that includes thousands of former and current employees at the airline and the Dublin Airport Authority.
That pension scheme – the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme (IASS) – has a massive €800m deficit. Following tortuous negotiations, Aer Lingus has pledged to inject €140m to help plug the shortfall. Airline staff would also receive so-called "stabilisation payments" over four years, but they would also be subject to further pay freezes until 2016.
But the plans have been under pressure since IASS trustees told the DAA and Aer Lingus that the amount they were willing to inject into the scheme wasn't sufficient.