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Pay deal will leave Aer Lingus pilots ‘better off’, union says | BreakingNews.ie

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Updated at 11.45am

Aer Lingus pilots will be “better off” if they agree to a new pay deal, their representative body has said.

Pilots in the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) are to be balloted on a 17.75 per cent deal following a recommendation from the Labour Court aimed at resolving a long-running dispute with the airline over pay.

The pay rise covers the period from 2022 to 2026.

Speaking on Thursday, Ialpa president Mark Tighe said: “It is not quite the inflation that we were discussing, but we’re looking at two years from now, pilots will be 19.2 per cent better off than they were – which is someways towards inflation.”

Asked if the deal included any increased productivity measures for pilots, Mr Tighe said: “None at all.”

“We sold no working conditions as part of this deal.”

He said the group is recommending the Labour Court’s proposal “because we believe it’s a deal that the pilots can hopefully accept, and we’ll move on”.

Captain Tighe added: “We’ve had a very successful time as a group of people demonstrating our unity and strength together. And that’s vitally important moving forward.”

He said the union had not wanted to inconvenience passengers.

“I’ve said repeatedly how important they are to us as pilots, but unfortunately, management could have come to this point a long time ago, and the question should be really directed towards them.”

Captain Tighe said he understood the pilots’ group would be having “inflation meetings”, adding: “The question of inflation and employees being left behind while companies profits continue to increase is an important one that will have to be discussed further by everybody in this country.”

The union will hold a series of engagements with members before a ballot on the terms of the Labour Court recommendation in the coming week.

Taoiseach Simon Harris has welcomed the developments.

In a statement, he said: “I welcome the decision by Ialpa to suspend industrial action and recommend acceptance of the Labour Court proposal.

“This is a very positive development for the travelling public and our tourism sector.

“I have consistently stated that compromise and engagement was the only way forward.”

Aer Lingus planes at Dublin Airport as more flights were cancelled (Artur Widak/PA)

Aer Lingus welcomed Ialpa’s recommendation to its members to accept the deal, as well as the decision to discontinue industrial action.

It said: “We look forward to Ialpa completing the balloting process as soon as possible.”

Earlier, Aer Lingus cancelled 25 more flights next Monday and Tuesday and said it would contact affected customers.

It also said more cancellations would be announced on Thursday.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled in the two weeks since the industrial action began, which has affected thousands of holidaymakers’ plans.

Aer Lingus said those affected by flight cancellations will be given the option to change their flights for free or to claim a refund or voucher.

Customers can check the flights affected on the Aer Lingus Travel Advisory page.

The airline said the industrial relations dispute had been “enormously damaging both financially and reputationally”.

The pilots had initially sought a pay increase of 24 per cent, which they said equated to inflation since the last pay rise in 2019.

They had previously rejected a Labour Court recommendation for pay increases of 9 per cent, but Ialpa had suggested the union would consider a pay increase below the 24 per cent figure.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) welcomed the news that Ialpa has recommended the Labour Court’s proposals to its members.

ITAA chief executive Clare Dunne said they are “delighted” by the Ialpa decision, adding: “It is a good day for the travelling public”.

“This is a very positive development for intending travellers and the tourism sector.

“The ITAA have consistently stated that compromise and engagement between IAPLA and Aer Lingus was the way only forward and best for every stakeholder involved, most importantly the customer. We look forward to a positive outcome,” Ms Dunne said.

Additional reporting Vivienne Clarke

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