Flights at risk in Aer Lingus row with staff

Michael Lavery

THE threat of more flight disruptions hung over Aer Lingus today with the possibility that up to 30 cabin crew could be removed from the payroll.

A return flight from Dublin to Boston was cancelled yesterday, affecting around 300 passengers in a row over new staff rosters.

The airline offered to accommodate the passengers on flights to New York later yesterday or to Boston today.

It said it hoped to operate a full schedule today but it could not rule out the possibility of further disruption.

Aer Lingus and Impact trade union blamed each other for the cancellation of the two Boston flights. Around 30 cabin crew employees had refused to co-operate with the new rosters, Aer Lingus said.

Management was holding "individual" meetings today with the cabin crew members who refused to operate the controversial new rosters yesterday.

The airline warned last week that staff who persistently refused to co-operate with the rosters would be sent home and removed from the payroll.


It said the "sole responsibility" for yesterday's cancellations and disruption to customers' travel plans lay with the Impact trade union, "which continues to take industrial action despite 15 months of negotiation, agreement, clarification, conciliation and binding arbitration".

Impact cabin crew members have been on a work to rule for the past 14 weeks. The union said that any move to suspend its members could lead to disruption.

In a statement, the union said four cabin crew members based in Cork and eight based in Dublin were told by the company last night that they were being taken off duties "because they had taken meal breaks while working a series of 'doubled' duties after completing in excess of the required working hours".

The Cabin Crew branch of Impact described the company's actions as "despicable".

Impact said yesterday's cancellations were avoidable as there were "appropriate staff on call which the airline chose not to use".

Aer Lingus maintains the new roster system and revised rules are necessary to secure an increase in flying hours for cabin crew to 850 a year, as part of its overall cost-saving plan.