Hopes rise of end to Aer Lingus row as both parties agree to attend Labour Court

Sides agree to separate Labour Court meetings in latest bid to resolve pay dispute

Capt Mark Tighe, president of Ialpa, accompanied by other officials, presented legal notice of the union's industrial action to Aer Lingus headquarters last week. Photograph: Alan Betson

Both sides in the Aer Lingus pilots’ pay row will attend the Labour Court on Tuesday, boosting hopes of a breakthrough in the deadlocked dispute.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) at the company plan to begin industrial action on Wednesday in pursuit of a 24 per cent pay rise, a move that has led to flight cancellations hitting 35,000 passengers.

Ialpa and Aer Lingus both confirmed late on Monday that they had accepted invitations to attend separate meetings at the Labour Court on Tuesday.

News of the court’s intervention boosted hopes that the sides could resolve a dispute that had grown increasingly bitter, with the union saying the airline had threatened officials and members, while the company accused pilots of “blackmail”.

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Taoiseach Simon Harris said that the meetings could “provide an opportunity to try to make progress and ensure the travelling public are not further affected by this dispute”.

The Labour Court asked each party to attend to brief it on the dispute. Its move came at the end of a day during which both sides said they remained willing to meet, but appeared no closer to doing so.

Aer Lingus said it had written to Ialpa seeking talks to resolve the dispute, including discussions on improved productivity and flexibility.

The airline said the union responded that it had no mandate for such negotiations.

Ialpa earlier confirmed that it had written to Aer Lingus offering to meet but the company had not responded.

Pilots are seeking a 23.88 per cent pay rise to compensate them for the increase in the cost of living since their last pay boost in 2019.

Aer Lingus maintains that their salaries have risen 23 per cent on average since then. It branded their pay claim “exorbitant” and “untenable”.

Ialpa last week told the airline that its members would begin a strict work to rule on Wednesday, prompting the company to cancel 124 flights “to protect as many services as possible” from disruption.

The union subsequently announced that pilots would strike between 5am and 1pm on Saturday morning, June 29th. Aer Lingus axed further services as a result, bringing total cancellations to 220.

Hoteliers warned on Monday that the dispute was hitting tourism. Michael Magner, president of the Irish Hotels Federation, called on both sides to “engage positively” to find a resolution.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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