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Pilots’ Strike: Aer Lingus Cancels 244 Flights

Dublin: Aer Lingus has cancelled numerous flights following a strike by pilots demanding a pay increase, significantly disrupting the travel plans of thousands of passengers. Both Aer Lingus and the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) remain steadfast in their positions, showing no signs of negotiating.

The strike, led by the trade unions, commenced on Wednesday. An eight-hour strike is also scheduled for next Saturday, from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. By Sunday, 244 flight services had been cancelled, with 120 of those due to the upcoming Saturday strike. Around 15,000 passengers are expected to be affected, with most cancelled flights heading to popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal, and Croatia, according to travel agents.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson indicated that the number of cancelled flights could increase further next week. The airline had previously confirmed 124 flight cancellations in the first five days of the strike.

Despite intervention attempts by the Prime Minister and other officials, Aer Lingus and IALPA have yet to agree to settlement talks. Capt. Mark Tighe, president of IALPA, criticised the company for its reluctance to meet despite expressing readiness for negotiation.

Aer Lingus has suggested that wage increase discussions can occur with other groups, considering a raise beyond 12.5%. However, IALPA disagrees, with pilots rejecting a proposal to renegotiate with the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Mark Tighe emphasised that the pilots are resolute in their demand for a 24% wage increase, citing years of being overlooked. He expressed hope that passengers would understand the pilots’ plight and accused the company of aiming to undermine them. Tighe also alleged that pilots were being targeted individually, with several facing disciplinary action for violating the company’s social media protocol.

Enterprise Minister Peter Burke reiterated the need for both sides to be open to discussions, urging the WRC and the Labour Court to intervene and help resolve the issue.

Clare Dunne, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association, noted that the strike has severely impacted everyone with travel plans. She highlighted Saturday’s strike as particularly critical, causing significant disruptions for thousands of travellers.

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