Sunday 18 March 2018

Aer Lingus strike action called off after overnight talks

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Travel chaos for air passengers has been averted this week after planned industrial action involving Aer Lingus pilots was called off.

Management and pilots hammered out an agreement after 15 hours of talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).

Tens of thousands of passengers flying from Dublin, Shannon and Cork, faced disruption from tomorrow but the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (Ialpa) said action has been suspended until July 1.

Ialpa, the pilots' branch of Impact trade union, said the agreement covered the two main issues of concern for pilots, including management of the peak summer period roster and the development of a longer-term form of roster.

"Agreement has now been reached on both of these issues," an Ialpa statement said.

"The industrial action has been suspended until July 1, in order to allow time to implement agreed proposals on the summer rosters."

Aer Lingus revealed that thousands of people due to fly with the airline have already changed or cancelled their bookings amid the threat of travel chaos.

Pilots at Belfast and Gatwick have also balloted for industrial action and will serve notice on the company.

Ialpa said those issues are the subject of further discussion today.

The union has said the dispute centred on a shortage of pilots in Aer Lingus.

It maintained rosters were chaotic last summer, with pilots regularly forced to work six out of seven days throughout the high season.

Aer Lingus said it planned to operate a full schedule tomorrow from all its bases and apologised to customers for the uncertainty over its schedule.

"Customers who have already changed bookings to another date, may change back to their original planned date of travel if they so wish via," the airline said.

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