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Aer Lingus hires in rival crews to halt disruption

AER Lingus passengers' plans will not be disrupted as the dispute-hit company hires aircraft and crews from rival airlines.

Chief executive Christoph Mueller assured travellers in newspaper adverts today that every effort was being made to minimise disruption by hiring in outside crews and aircraft.

The company used the ads to attack the IMPACT trade union for fighting new rosters designed to boost the number of in-flight hours for cabin crew.

The airline has continued to remove from the payroll cabin crew who refuse to work the new rosters.

Aer Lingus claims the union has failed to implement a recovery plan which was agreed.


IMPACT claims the new rosters discriminate against female crew by making it impossible for them to manage their family responsibilities.

New rules stipulate that duty hours can be changed by three hours on the day of duty.

The right to request one weekend off duty every eight weeks has been abolished. And cabin crew can now be sent to work away from base for 26 days at a stretch.

Mr Mueller in his public notice to passengers praised the 75-year history of Aer Lingus cabin crew as excellent ambassadors for the airline but slammed their union for 'misleading' their members.

The troubled airline is running a full schedule for the first time this week after hiring planes from Ryanair and other carriers.

A transatlantic aircraft leased at short notice -- complete with maintenance, crew, and insurance -- could cost €250,000 a day; while a short-haul aircraft could cost €20,000.

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary accused IMPACT of "backtracking" on an agreement last year to increase cabin crew flying hours from 800 to 850 a year and said Aer Lingus needed to "win" the row quickly.

"If we can help in that process then we will help," he said.

Aer Lingus is expected to use some of its €900m cash reserves to pay for the hiring of cabin crew and aircraft.

More than 100 cabin crew have been struck off the payroll without wages during this ongoing dispute.

Flights between Dublin and European destinations including London Heathrow, Paris, and Brussels were cancelled.

More than 50 flights have been cancelled and roughly 4,410 passengers affected since management brought in the roster changes last Monday.

IMPACT has asked the Director of the Equality Tribunal to investigate how the new rosters discriminate against female staff.

But the union has also asked the Labour Court to intervene and said it will accept its recommendation. But the company claims to have run out of patience following months of extensive talks and a binding arbitration process.

Aer Lingus said its cabin crew in Belfast and Gatwick had been operating the new rosters for the past few years and they were in line with international practice.

Hundreds of angry Aer Lingus cabin crew met last night to air their grievances about the way they have been treated.

Today cabin crew members of the IMPACT union and members of the pilots' union, IALPA assembled for an 11am protest march around Dublin Airport to Aer Lingus headquarters to present a letter to Mr Mueller listing their grievances.