Aer Lingus accepts Labour Court proposals of 17.75% pay rise for pilots

Breakthrough in balance as Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association considers terms of proposed deal

Passengers checking in at Dublin Airport: both sides in the Aer Lingus pilots’ pay row need to agree to the Labour Court's proposals for the dispute to come to an end. Photograph: Alan Betson

Prospects of a breakthrough in the Aer Lingus pilots’ dispute hung in the balance on Monday after the airline accepted Labour Court proposals boosting pay by 17.75 per cent while the union continued to consider the deal.

The court issued its recommendation in the latest bid to end a dispute that prompted the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) to begin industrial action almost two weeks ago, subsequently forcing the airline to cancel 548 flights, affecting 82,000 passengers.

The Labour Court recommended total pay increases for pilots of 17.75 per cent up to July 2026, backdated to January 2023, along with a hike to their overnight allowances.

Aer Lingus confirmed it had accepted the proposal, adding that it would consider the longer term implications of implementing it and the financial and reputational damage caused by the dispute.

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Ialpa, part of trade union Fórsa, said it would call a meeting of its executive over the next 24 hours before preparing to ballot members on the Labour Court proposal.

Its president, Capt Mark Tighe, said several executive members were flying on Monday, so had no opportunity to read the court’s recommendation. He added that the union’s work to rule, under which pilots were refusing overtime, out-of-hours work or late roster changes, would continue in the meantime.

“Pilots will have the opportunity to consider its terms and to carefully consider our next steps,” said Capt Tighe.

Ialpa’s executive is likely to issue a recommendation to members on the Labour Court deal in advance of any ballot.

Both sides must agree to accept the Labour Court’s proposal if the dispute is to end, as the court’s recommendation is not binding on either party. Aer Lingus called on Ialpa/Fórsa to accept the deal and end its industrial action.

The two sides have been waiting five days for what many regard as a crunch ruling. If the measure fails to break the deadlock, pilots are likely to escalate industrial action to involve strikes as well as maintaining their work to rule indefinitely.

Ialpa has been seeking 20 per cent-plus pay rises that it says are required to compensate members for inflation. It argues that the difference between its position and the company’s comes to less than €5 million a year.

Aer Lingus has maintained that it could not give pilots increases greater than the 12.25 per cent agreed with cabin and ground crew without their working harder in return.

The airline’s agreements with ground and cabin crew allow those groups to lodge fresh pay claims should Aer Lingus give any other workers increases of more than 12.25 per cent that are not tied to extra productivity.

Representatives of the company and Ialpa appeared before the Labour Court for more than three hours on Wednesday in what was their fourth session there.

Industrial action at Aer Lingus: How will it impact passengers?

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The Labour Court used powers under industrial relations law to intervene in the dispute last week following the failure of various efforts to find a solution, including talks between the parties the day after pilots began their industrial action on Wednesday, June 26th.

Along with their work to rule, Aer Lingus pilots held an eight-hour strike on Saturday, June 29th, when 500 of them marched at Dublin Airport.

Aer Lingus has cancelled 548 flights through to Sunday, July 14th in response to the industrial action, affecting 82,000 passengers. The airline flies 40,000 passengers on 220 flights every day at this time of year.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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