HomeBussinessAer Lingus pilots to start work-to-rule next week

Aer Lingus pilots to start work-to-rule next week

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Industrial action over pay demand will cause disruption to thousands of passengers

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) notified the airline this afternoon that the work-to-rule will commence just after midnight next Wednesday. The union is expected to issue a statement shortly.

Almost 700 of the near-800 pilots at Aer Lingus are represented by Ialpa. Over the weekend, they voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action at the IAG-owned carrier. The pilots are seeking a pay increase of almost 24pc.

Aer Lingus has offered a 12.25pc pay increase, while last month the Labour Court recommended an interim increase of 9.25pc, which was rejected by the pilots. Last year an independent pilot-pay tribunal also recommended 12.25pc, plus a 1.5pc increase in unconsolidated pay.

Aer Lingus carries about 40,000 passengers a day during the busy summer period. About 14,000 of those are transatlantic customers and the remainder are on its short-haul services.

Its chief corporate affairs officer, Dónal Moriarty, said on Monday that there appears to be a “determined approach” by Ialpa to initiate industrial action.

A 24pc pay hike would mean the most senior captains at Aer Lingus would get a pay rise of almost €50,000, bringing their basic annual pay to €256,000.

When other elements such as long-service increments and flight pay are factored in, the most senior pilots could then earn as much as €349,000 a year. The most senior pilots receive a huge pension contribution from the carrier as part of that overall package, with up to 21pc of their salary contributed by Aer Lingus to their pension pots.

The union said on Monday that its pilots are now “more determined than ever” to secure their near 24pc pay claim. Such a pay award would cost the airline about €45m a year.

Mark Tighe, the Ialpa spokesman, has said the near 24pc pay claim “is to ensure that pilots’ pay has the same purchasing power as it did in 2019”.

Ialpa says that Aer Lingus pilots haven’t had a pay increase since 2019. However, they have continued to move up the annual pay scales.

A pilot at the start of their captain career in Aer Lingus would have been earning a basic salary of €88,024 in 2019. Including flight pay, sector pay and pension contributions from the company of 21pc of their salary, the total package would have been €126,510.

By 2024, they’d be on a basic salary of €116,504 – a 32pc increase over 2019. Including other benefits, the total would currently be just under €161,000.

A co-pilot starting off in 2019 was on €66,359 in basic pay. By 2024, that’s risen to €102,076, which is 54pc increase. The total packages for such a pilot would be around €100,000 in 2019 and €143,000 today.

Aer Lingus has claimed a strike by pilots would cost it between €20m and €25m a day. That includes the cost of compensating passengers, re-routing them, and lost revenue.

While the pay increase sought by pilots is just about twice that amount on an annual basis, the airline would likely see thousands of other staff at the airline push for higher pay awards if the pilots were successful in their demands.

The pilot action will not affect Aer Lingus Regional services, which are operated by a separate company on a franchise basis. Aer Lingus Regional pilots agreed a pay deal earlier this year.

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