Ball now in pilots’ court as Labour Court recommends 17.75% pay boost

Airline has accepted terms while union executive ponders proposal that also increases allowances and writes off 2019 deal ‘debt’

Ialpa members in Aer Lingus strike at Dublin Airport: the Labour Court has proposed the company boost their pay by 17.75%. Photograph: Fintan Clarke

The Labour Court is proposing that Aer Lingus boosts pilots’ pay by 17.75 per cent in a recommendation that many observers believe is the last real opportunity to break the deadlock between the two sides and end a bitter labour dispute that has disrupted the summer travel plans of 82,000 passengers.

Members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa), part of trade union Fórsa, have been seeking a pay rise of 23.88 per cent, or 27 per cent, depending on whether it was the company or the workers doing the calculations, since they first lodged a claim with Aer Lingus in October 2022.

The dispute simmered for two years but it took off two weeks ago when pilots began refusing out of hours work, overtime and roster changes in a work to rule that has continued since. They also downed tools for an eight-hour strike on Saturday, June 29th.

Before that point, the two sides had already been once to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), part of the State’s system for resolving industrial disputes, and twice to the Labour Court.


The Labour Court recommendation published on Monday goes a good deal further than an interim proposal the same body tabled in May. That called for a 9.25 per cent hike for pilots while suggesting that the parties take issues on which they could not agree back to the WRC.

The latest recommendation proposes that Aer Lingus increase pilots’ pay by 17.75 per cent over more than three years, beginning with 2 per cent backdated to January 2023 and concluding with a final 1 per cent hike to kick in on July 1st, 2026.

There are eight payments, four backdated, giving them 10.75 per cent by the end of this year. The remaining 7 per cent will be paid between January 2025 and July 2026.

In addition, the court proposes that the company increase overnight allowances paid to pilots by 10 per cent from the point at which they accept its recommendation, if they do so, and then by another 5 per cent from October 1st, 2025.

Finally, it calls for the airline to write off a “debt” due from the pilots dating back to a 2019 agreement giving them more flexibility on summer leave. This was valued at about 3.75 per cent of pay.

It led to the Aer Lingus internal pay tribunal discounting that amount from its offer to pilots late last year, reducing it to 8.75 per cent from the 12.25 per cent that cabin and ground crew accepted. Ialpa rejected that offer. This was one of the sticking points that the court originally suggested they should take back to the WRC.

Aer Lingus has accepted the proposed deal. Ialpa’s executive is likely to give its verdict on Tuesday, after which the union will ballot members in the airline. In the meantime, industrial action continues and the company has as of now cancelled flights up to and including next Sunday, July 14th.