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Aer Lingus Pilots Begin Strict ‘Work to Rule’ Protest in Pay Dispute That Will Lead to Mass Disruption at the Irish Flag Carrier

Aer Lingus Pilots Begin Strict ‘Work to Rule’ Protest in Pay Dispute That Will Lead to Mass Disruption at the Irish Flag Carrier

a plane on a runway

Pilots at Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus have begun a strict ‘work to rule’ protest in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions that shows little sign of being resolved anytime soon.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) have demanded a 24% pay rise for its members at Aer Lingus after pilots rejected an 8% offer that was tabled back in January.

Since then, the two sides have been unable to reach a compromise despite the assistance of mediation in the Irish Labour Courts. In recent weeks, the dispute has become increasingly acrimonious, with Aer Lingus accusing pilots of taking part in an “insidious” form of industrial action.

The indefinite work-to-rule protest will see pilots refuse to work overtime on their days off or beyond their contracted hours, and Aer Lingus has already started to proactively cancel flights to build breathing space into its schedule.

On the face of it, this would suggest that Aer Lingus has been heavily reliant on the goodwill of its pilots to work beyond their contracted hours.

The work-to-rule protest will have an immediate impact on flights that are subject to delays through no fault of Aer Lingus, especially during the busy summer months when air traffic control restrictions are regularly imposed across Europe.

The union has stopped short of declaring an all-out strike, and a spokesperson noted that its members will continue to work on their published rosters.

On Tuesday, Aer Lingus sought assistance from the Irish Labour Court in an attempt to force the two sides into arbitration, but the court told the airline that it wasn’t able to assist.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the airline said: “Aer Lingus is calling upon Forsa / IALPA to consider the damage that its continued industrial action is inflicting upon passengers, the company and the Irish economy.”

Aer Lingus has upped its initial offer to 9.25% on the recommendation of the Labour Court but has point-blank refused to meet Ialpa’s demands for a near 24% pay raise, saying that this would see some pilots earning as much as €350,000 a year

Ialpa says the pay raise is necessary to keep up with the rising cost of living as well as to make up for the sacrifices that its members endured during the pandemic.

Last month, Aer Lingus’ parent company followed through with a threat to reallocate new aircraft from the Irish carrier to sister airline Iberia because pilots had refused to accept the pay offer tabled by Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus had been due to become the global launch customer of the new Airbus A321XLR, but the first planes are now due to go into service with Iberia. Six of a total order of 14 A321XLRs are due to go to Aer Lingus, but it’s not known when the airline cannot expect to receive the aircraft.

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