Aer Lingus pilots vote for strike action

Aer Lingus passengers face mass cancellations this summer after a pilots vote approve industrial action.

Disruption of flights could start as early as next Tuesday, with travellers facing widespread uncertainty unless an agreement is reached between management and members of the Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa).

Refusing to work on designated days off and turning up for work an hour late are two of the methods selected to cause disruption by almost 90% of pilots.

Aer Lingus stated that if the action does take place it may cause all flights from Dublin and Cork could be cancelled from June 7th, but it said that talks with the association – a branch of the Impact union – were continuing.

“This withdrawal of flexibility will destroy our ability to operate a proper schedule as we will miss our airport slot times, parking stands and gate positions and will be unable to fulfil flight connections for customers”, said Christophe Mueller, chief executive officer of Aer Lingus. “This may lead to a full cancellation of operations from Tuesday June 7.”

Being asked to work extra during peak hours and a general shortage of pilots have been the main reasons cited behind the action.

A spokesman for the association said that pilots at Aer Lingus agreed to a pay cut earlier this year, in exchange for assurances that they would not be asked to work for more than five consecutive days. It claims the airline has reneged on this agreement.

The airline says it has been in talks with pilots for some time in an attempt to develop new rosters.
Aer Lingus recently began making cuts, including staff redundancies and a reduction of its long-haul capacity, in an effort to save £85 million. Cabin crew responded by striking in January, forcing the cancellation of dozens of flights.

Earlier this month the airline announced operating losses of £47 million for the first three months of 2011.