Aer Lingus cancels Toronto-Dublin flight as co-pilot stood down

Airline and pilots clash over legal threat and sick leave

Aer Lingus cancelled a Toronto-Dublin flight over the weekend after a doctor stood one of the pilots down on medical grounds. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Aer Lingus cancelled a Toronto-Dublin flight over the weekend after a doctor stood one of the pilots down on medical grounds, it has emerged.

The incident was not connected to either the work to rule or the strike planned by the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) next week as they campaign for a 23.88 per cent pay rise to match inflation.

News of the cancellation emerged as Aer Lingus and the pilots’ trade union clashed again over legal threats and a row over sick leave that has widened the rift between the sides in recent days.

The carrier confirmed at the weekend that it cancelled a flight due to leave Toronto on Friday evening and land in Dublin at 5:15am on Saturday “due to operational issues”.


According to Ialpa, a company doctor stood the flight’s first officer down on medical grounds after the individual sought the medic’s advice, which is normal practice if a pilot feels unwell.

The company had contacted the pilot shortly before warning that the individual risked disciplinary action over social media posts that Aer Lingus maintained had breached its policy in this area.

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The union says the company doctor stood the pilot down after hearing the first officer read the company letter to the medic.

Aer Lingus said it did not comment on personal issues. The airline said that it had re-accommodated most of the passengers on the flight by Saturday morning but did not say how many were involved.

Over the weekend Ialpa criticised the company’s “antagonistic” approach to pilots, saying that it had threatened union officials and members with legal action on various grounds.

Aer Lingus chief operations officer Adrian Dunne wrote to pilots on Friday saying they could be held personally liable for any losses to the airline if they fail to work their rosters before they begin industrial action on Wednesday.

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He stated that the company would regard any pilot who refuses requested roster changes, up to 12:01am on Wednesday, when the work to rule begins, as engaging in unofficial industrial action.

He added that those who “participate in this kind of behaviour may be held personally liable for any losses arising”.

Mr Dunne said that the company would require medical certs from “day one” of any sick leave taken by pilots and that the airline could remove their staff travel privileges once the work-to-rule started on June 26th.

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Ialpa responded that the company could not change sick pay policy without the trade union’s agreement.

“We dispute any/all proposed changes to the sick leave policy and the proposal to require certificates from day one,” wrote Capt Daniel Langan, Ialpa vice-president, finance.

Ialpa would take any measures needed to protect members affected by this, he added, noting that the union was available to discuss the issue.

Capt Langan dubbed the move on travel privileges disappointing but expected. “You will be aware that Aer Lingus has a significant number of pilots, mainly first officers, who commute to work from abroad using Aer Lingus staff travel due to the high cost of living in Dublin,” he said.

He argued that the pilots’ lack of a pay increase since 2019 had compounded the problem.

Ialpa said the union remained willing to meet to resolve the dispute.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas