Tuesday 10 December 2019

Aer Lingus warns strike threat has already 'considerably damaged bookings'

Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller
Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller
Christoph Mueller, accused staff of making “outrageous demands”
Strike chaos looms

Ailish O'Hora and Anne Marie Walsh

AER LINGUS has warned today that a strike threat scheduled for the June bank holiday has already damaging forward bookings and impacted revenues.

The airline said that the threat has considerably damaged its forward booking profile, in a trading statement issued today.

Management said the adverse effect of the strike called for 30 May will offset potential revenue gains that Aer Lingus would have realised.

Aer Lingus cabin crew vowed to strike even if a state mediation body steps in.

More than 40,000 passengers will be affected if the work stoppage by 1,500 staff goes ahead on Friday, May 30.

Already thousands have been forced to change their travel plans on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Aer Lingus has stopped taking bookings and warned that 204 flights will be grounded due to the strike over rosters – despite efforts to draft in larger planes and hire additional crew.

Some 28,000 customers who have already made bookings to travel on the day of the planned strike are being refunded or given the option of moving their flight to another day.

Impact assistant general secretary Michael Landers said the possibility of an intervention by an industrial relations body to avert the industrial action will make no difference.

"That only thing that can stop this strike is if Aer Lingus agrees to what we're looking for," said Mr Landers.

"We are happy to go into discussions – but won't call off the strike to facilitate an intervention by the Labour Relations Commission or other mediation body. We would need to establish that our demands would be met. We have spent three years trying to talk to Aer Lingus on this and, given the fact that they would not talk to us last Friday week, we see little prospect of that."

The Irish Independent has learned that Impact suggested that cabin crew try pilots' schedule of 'five days on three days off' on a trial basis, but the union claims this was rejected by the airline.

Both sides in the dispute adopted a hardline stance in the row yesterday, as relations deteriorated further. Impact cabin crew want the 'five days on, three days off' roster instead of a varied arrangement which includes five days with two off, and six with one off.

Aer Lingus, headed by chief executive Christoph Mueller, accused staff of making "outrageous demands". It claimed cabin crew would get another 32 paid days off if it gave in to their demands

Aer Lingus said the "unjustified and unnecessary strike" by members of Impact was unfair.

It claimed Impact's claims about rosters being "unworkable" were misleading, saying cabin crew had between 26 and 31 days annual leave and that the row should be dealt with through an internal body, set up to resolve disputes.

Aer Lingus claimed the union's examples of 60-hour working weeks and 16-hour days bore no resemblance to reality.

It said no crew worked six days on, one day off, and then six days on again as had been alleged, and that it could not offer cabin crew the same rosters as cockpit crew.

"Applying the roster pattern demanded by Impact is completely unworkable as the dual sets of roster rules for long and short-haul flying would cause the rosters to be completely inefficient," said a spokesman.

But Impact claims the 'five day on, three day off' roster could be offered and that Aer Lingus's claims that staff would get an extra 32 days off were unfounded. The union said cabin crew would work the same hours but time off would be taken in a bigger block.

"The proof of the pudding is that this roster works for pilots," said Mr Landers. "We are not saying members want to do less work, they just want it organised in a more efficient way."

Irish Independent

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