Irish agents issue summer travel disruption warning amid Aer Lingus pilot strike threat

Irish travel agents have warned of a summer holiday disruption unless a pay dispute involving Aer Lingus pilots is resolved.

The prospect arose as members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) working at the IAG-owned British Airways sister carrier voted by a large margin in favour of industrial action.

Irish Travel Agents Association president Angela Walsh said: “The ITAA is urging Aer Lingus and unions to reach a resolution and avoid any disruptive strike action. 

“Any pilot strike over the summer months will cause serious impact for both holidaymakers and corporate travellers, as we are in the busiest travel period of the year, with knock on effects on accommodation reservations and connecting travel.”

She added: “Travel agents are on the front line when strikes, cancellations and other disruptions occur and are the first port of call for customers.

“While we are always happy to minimise all disruption for our customers, we urge the airline and greater travel industry to put the consumer first in an effort to avoid such disruption to travel plans.”

The result of a ballot of pilots at Aer Lingus showed that 98% of members who voted indicated they were in favour of industrial action, up to and including a strike, in support of a claim for increases totalling 23.8% over three and a half years.

However, talks between the two sides were reportedly continuing with the union yet to decide on the nature or timing of any industrial action.

Ialpa president Mark Tighe said the union would announce what action it might take “in due course” but said he hoped the carrier’s management would “come to its senses”.

“The result of this ballot shows the resolve and determination of our members to get a fair share of the large profits that Aer Lingus are making,“ he said.

At least seven days’ notice would have to be given of any strike. But any action could hit passengers as the peak summer holiday period approaches when Aer Lingus would expect to carry about 40,000 passengers a day.

The airline’s chief corporate affairs officer Donal Moriarty told Irish media that the airline was still hoping ongoing talks would produce a resolution but that “unfortunately I can’t report any meaningful progress in those talks yet”.

He described the increases being sought by the pilots as “exorbitant and frankly untenable” saying they would add between €40 million and €45 million to the company’s cost base. 

If Ialpa proceeded with strike action “it’s inevitable there will be a severe impact with a large number of flight cancellations,” he warned.

The Irish Labour Court recently recommended interim increases worth 9.25% for the airline’s 800 pilots while setting aside the issue of a crewing arrangement that provided pilots with improved flexibility in respect of summer leave. 


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