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Aer Lingus unable to confirm if it will be the launch customer for new Airbus jet


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Airline had warned that pilot pay dispute threatened Sunday deadline

What the Airbus A321XLR jet will look like in Aer Lingus livery

Aer Lingus was unable to confirm this evening if it will be the launch customer for a new generation of Airbus aircraft as a pilot pay dispute saw it miss a deadline on Sunday for painting the new jet in the carrier’s livery.

The airline, part of the IAG group that also owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, had previously warned that a decision had to be made by Sunday, April 28 on whether or not a brand new Airbus A321XLR that has already rolled off the production line would be painted in the Aer Lingus livery.

It made a last-ditch effort to cement a pay deal with the Irish Airline Pilots’ Union (IALPA) earlier this month in advance of negotiations at the Labour Court that got underway on April 22 and which reconvened today.

The long-awaited Airbus A321XLR aircraft is billed by Airbus as a “long-range route opener”.

The plane maker says it will use 30pc less fuel than the previous generation of jets.

It has a range of 4,700 nautical miles (8,700km) and can carry between 180 and 220 passengers, depending on the configuration.

As of 2023, Aer Lingus had intended to use the first XLR aircraft in its fleet on its Dublin-Minneapolis St Paul service, which the airline has just relaunched, from this winter.

IAG ordered 14 A321XLR jets in 2019. Of those, Aer Lingus was due to receive six, with the first due for delivery in October. Aer Lingus is due to take delivery of three of the jets in 2025 and two in 2026.

However, Aer Lingus subsequently said that two of the jets would be delivered this year.

Decisions on the delivery of the XLR jets due to be delivered after 2024 will have to be made in coming months, according to Aer Lingus this month.

IAG chief executive Luis Gallego warned earlier this year that Aer Lingus would not be the launch customer for the XLR aircraft unless the pilot pay dispute could be resolved.

The airline, whose chief executive is Lynne Embleton, also told pilots in a letter last month that the potential loss of the planned A321XLR aircraft scheduled for delivery to Aer Lingus this year would immediately reduce its pilot requirement by 80 and its command requirement by 40.

IALPA’s pay proposal includes a 20pc pay rise and the additional 7pc covering the cost by pilots of a 2019 crewing agreement.

The 12.25pc proposed by the carrier included 3.75pc to pay for that crewing agreement.

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