Aer Lingus: Pilots launch industrial action over pay dispute

image caption, Wexford basketball team Igiehon Elite Academy is set to move to Newark

Aer Lingus pilots have launched industrial action in an ongoing dispute with the airline over pay.

Members of the Irish Air Line Pilots Association (IALPA) began indefinite strike action at midnight on Wednesday.

An eight-hour strike is planned for Saturday from 05:00 to 13:00 BST.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled

The airline said it was disappointed the Labor Court had not intervened in the dispute, but would review the matter in July.

“Aer Lingus will continue to focus on minimizing disruption to customers caused by IALPA’s industrial action,” it said in a statement.

The airline said it “has made it clear that it is available for discussions directly and through the state’s industrial relations framework”.

Aer Lingus said the total number of flights canceled as a result of the industrial action has now risen to 270.

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

It called on IALPA to “consider the damage that its continued industrial action is causing to passengers, the company and the Irish economy”.

A full list of canceled flights till July 2 can be found on the airline’s website.

It said: “The nature of this industrial action will lead to further cancellations and delays and we will be contacting affected customers directly as soon as possible.”

What are travelers saying?

Board member Daniel Walsh said: “We had heard about the strikes so we turned up an hour early.

“There are 50 or so of us going to an academy and we’re all on the same plane.

“We checked with the airline and our coach reached out to our flight agent to check. Our flight was not canceled, but we were backed up to United Airlines anyway.”

The team returns from New Jersey with Aer Lingus, but doesn’t know what will happen.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Daniel said.

image caption, The scene at Dublin Airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning

Ronan Sheridan, from Cavan, went to Dublin Airport after changing his sister’s flight.

“My sister was going to New York and at the last minute, we had to change flights to American Airlines.

“She had some advance warning, so I think it was well organized. She had to go today, so she had to look at alternatives, on her own. Today was the day she was going. She couldn’t change that.

“Good luck. It worked reasonably well.

On the scene: BBC News NI Dublin correspondent Aoife Moore

image caption, Ronan Sheridan, from Cavan, was dropping his sister off at Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport’s Terminal Two was bustling this morning – unexpected for late June.

The Aer Lingus backpack drop was crowded but moved quickly with plenty of staff on hand to assist customers wheeling large suitcases.

It looks like the pay war between pilots and airlines will continue.

Aer Lingus is one of the major airlines that fly passengers from Dublin to the United States.

Many booked alternate days or airlines to reach their destination on time.

Most people who spoke to the BBC said they had found an alternative flight, despite some disruption.

Speaking to BBC News NI on Tuesday, IALPA president Captain Mark Dyke said the job was now in place because Aer Lingus management had “refused to see the reasonableness of our inflated inflationary wage demand”.

IALPA is demanding a 24% wage hike.

Captain DK said the “acceptable offer” would end the industrial action.

image caption, Mark Dyke, President of the Irish Airline Pilots Association

He added: “The company has refused to see the wisdom and prudence of employees in keeping their salaries in line with inflation.

“We are not looking to increase our wages, we are looking to protect our income,” he added.

“It’s not unreasonable for employees to want to protect their salaries.”

He said the work to rule would include “some additional industrial elements”.

“Pilots who were basically always very flexible about making sure flights came home under delayed conditions and on holidays – some pilots did, most didn’t because of work life balance – but since that was withdrawn, the flexibility is gone.”.

Captain Deke said people should be aware that only a small number of pilots use their vacation days to work.

On Tuesday, senior political figures in the Republic of Ireland called for a resolution to be found.

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Simon Harris called on Aer Lingus and IALPA to “engage vigorously” with the Labor Court to avoid “total chaos” for air passengers.

He urged both sides to “dig deep”, calling for “reconciliation, engagement and sitting around a table”.

Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Michael Martin meanwhile said there was an “urgent need” to find a solution.

He added that the public has been neglected by both sides in the dispute.

“It’s shocking that they’re being ignored, if you will, Aer Lingus has to take one side in this battle between management and the unions,” Mr Martin said.

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

Passengers with flights booked between June 26 and July 2 have several options, the airline said.

Everyone should contact via email or SMS or through their travel agent.

Customers who have booked directly with Aer Lingus have the option to change flights online.

The company said that rebooking at a later date will waive the fare difference and any change fees.

There is also an option to claim a full refund and refund voucher within five years.

Passengers who booked through a travel agent or third party should contact those companies directly, Aer Lingus said.

“Unfortunately, Aer Lingus is unable to assist directly in these cases,” Aer Lingus outlines on its website.

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