Aer Lingus confirms more flight cancellations

Getty Images Green and white Plane with Aer Lingus written across it with three plane tail wings in the background that each have the Aer Lingus shamrock logo on themGetty Images

Aer Lingus have now cancelled almost 400 flights

Aer Lingus has confirmed it is cancelling a further 122 flights up until 7 July due to the ongoing industrial action by pilots.

The airline has now cancelled almost 400 flights as a result of an indefinite work-to-rule and strike action by pilots.

The work-to-rule means not working over time or carrying out any other out-of-hours duties.

An eight-hour strike from 05:00 -13:00 local time is planned for Saturday.

Aer Lingus said that due to the “indefinite nature” of IALPA pilots’ industrial action it “must cancel” additional flights up to 7 July.

The disputes committee of Fórsa, the parent union of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA), is expected to meet on Friday to decide whether to give the green light to a further work stoppage by Aer Lingus pilots in Ireland.

RTÉ is reporting that the recommendation for an additional strike was made by IALPA on Thursday.

Talks between it and Aer Lingus to resolve the ongoing pay dispute broke down without a resolution on Thursday.

The airline issued an invitation for talks to IALPA on Wednesday after pilots began their work-to-rule.

grey placeholderPA Media A number of Aer Lingus planes parked on an airport runwayPA Media

Aer Lingus has described the potential of further strike action as entirely inappropriate

‘Reasonable pay claim’

IALPA had been calling for a 24% pay rise for members.

Capt Mark Tighe, president of IALPA, said that the 24% increase is a “cumulative figure of inflation from 2019, our last pay rise”.

Speaking to BBC News NI’s Good Morning Ulster programme on Friday, Capt Tighe said in an effort to resolve the dispute, the union had said it would accept less than an inflationary rise.

“We don’t believe anybody should be getting less than inflation, but yesterday in an effort to resolve this, we said we would accept less than inflation.”

However, he added:

“We believe inflation is a very reasonable claim in this current time.”

On Friday, he claimed that Aer Lingus has escalated the situation with the pilots.

grey placeholderPA Media An image of Mark Tighe from the shoulders upPA Media

On Thursday afternoon, IALPA President Capt Mark Tighe confirmed that talks had “broken down”

Additional strike action?

IALPA has recommended to trade union Fórsa that the additional strike should be longer than the action planned for Saturday, RTÉ has reported.

If sanctioned, Fórsa will have to give seven days’ notice to Aer Lingus before pilots can stop work.

Aer Lingus has described the potential of further strike action as “entirely inappropriate given the request of the Labour Court this week that the dispute should not be escalated”.

Donal Moriarty, Aer Lingus’ chief corporate affairs officer, said the airline is “willing to go back to the Labour Court on a formal joint referral basis”.

He said Aer Lingus has encouraged IALPA and Fórsa to “agree to this step”.

Capt Tighe, however, said on Friday morning that he doesn’t believe “at this point in time” that the Labour Court can resolve the dispute.

He said the union will have further news by mid-afternoon on Friday.

“The Labour Court has asked both sides not to escalate. The company have escalated and we are in a place now where we will be too,” he said.

grey placeholderLuke McWatters Luke Watters is standing in an airport, leaning against a pillar, wearing a cream fleece. Some people can be seeing queuing in the background Luke McWatters

Luke McWatters said his school group had been “left high and dry”

A group of students and teachers from Shimna Integrated School in County Down who were retuning from a trip to Berlin had their flight home cancelled while they were in the airport.

Teacher Luke McWatters, said that their 21:45 flight on Thursday was initially showing as delayed and then, more than two hours after the flight was initially due to take off, they were told it was cancelled.

“Trying to ring through to Aer Lingus I was on three different calls to three different agents who, every time I got to a certain way through said: ‘Because you’re a group we can’t do anything for you -you have to contact group Aer Lingus who don’t open until 9am’.”

Mr McWatters told the BBC’s Evening Extra programme that he felt they had been “left high and dry”, with no offer of accommodation or food.

He said the group slept on the airport floor.

Mr McWatters said they were offered an alternative flight on 1 July.

“At that stage we made the call to try other airlines and split ourselves up as a group,” he added.

Half of the group travelled to Edinburgh, while the other half caught a flight to Poland, with both groups booked on flights back to Ireland on Friday.

Mr McWatters said that the support for Aer Lingus had “fallen very short of what you would expect from a major airline dealing with children”.

The BBC has contacted Aer Lingus for a response.

How many Aer Lingus flights have been cancelled?

The number of flights cancelled so far as a result of the current industrial action, Aer Lingus said, is 270.

All Aer Lingus UK regional flights, operated by Emerald Airlines, and Aer Lingus UK transatlantic flights to and from Manchester will operate as scheduled.

A full list of cancelled flights can be found on the airline’s website.

In a statement on Thursday, Aer Lingus said that the eight-hour strike action by pilots tomorrow “would be an opportune time for IALPA to meet pilots to adjust IALPA’s mandate so that it is capable of engaging in meaningful negotiations that can resolve this dispute”.

grey placeholderRTE Dozens of passengers at the bag drop area of Dublin Airport's Terminal 2RTE

Dublin Airport on the first day of industrial action

How much are Aer Lingus pilots paid?

Co-pilots can start out at about €36,000 (£30,400), with packages increasing based on actual flying hours.

Irish broadcaster RTÉ has reported a captain at the top of the scale can be paid about €287,000 (£242,000).

Capt Mark Tighe explained on Thursday that this can take up to 26 years.

There are differences for pilots depending on whether flights are short or long-haul.

What do I do if my Aer Lingus flight is cancelled?

The airline has said passengers with flights booked up to 7 July have a number of options available.

Aer Lingus will contact passengers who have had their flight cancelled directly via SMS, email or through their travel agent to advise them of their options.

These options include changing the date of your booking free of charge, applying for a refund voucher for future travel or a refund for the full value of your flight.

If a passenger is scheduled to travel up until 7 July but their flight has not been cancelled, they can also change their booking free of charge or apply for a refund voucher for future travel.

“We understand the frustration you must be feeling right now. Our teams are working hard to minimise disruption as much as possible,” Aer Lingus said.

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