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Irish premier urges Aer Lingus and pilots to ‘dig deep’ and resolve dispute

Simon Harris said there would be ‘very little sympathy’ for any side that was not making efforts to resolve the escalating row.

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Irish premier Simon Harris has asked Aer Lingus and the pilots group Ialpa to “dig deep” in attempting to come to a resolution in their heated industrial dispute.

Around 35,000 passengers’ flights have been cancelled due to an indefinite work-to-rule due to begin on Wednesday and an eight-hour strike announced for Saturday.

A further 50 flights will be cancelled on July 1 and 2, the airline announced on Tuesday.

There has been a sharp exchange of words between the airline and the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (Ialpa), with both sides accusing the other of not engaging.

Taoiseach Simon Harris
Taoiseach Simon Harris has said it is ‘absolutely vital’ that both sides engage (Grainne Ni Aodha/PA)

But both sides have agreed to attend separate meetings at the Labour Court on Tuesday to provide briefings on the industrial stand-off

The Taoiseach said it was “absolutely vital” that both sides engage in talks to find a resolution.

“My challenge to the parties now is to bring that engagement forward, rather than putting people through a prolonged period of agony and chaos, and then engaging in the end anyway,” Mr Harris said on Tuesday morning.

“This dispute will be settled the same way every dispute is settled: compromise, engagement, sitting around a table. That’s what needs to happen.

Mr Harris added: “I welcome the fact that today, both parties have agreed to attend the Labour Court, albeit separately, but I would ask people to dig deep here.”

He said there would be “very little sympathy” for anybody involved in cancelling family holidays and disrupting the tourism sector if they are not engaging “intensively”.

Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin said: “We do hope that the talks between Aer Lingus and Ialpa are substantive, and that they lead to a pathway to a resolution of the dispute and relieve the anxiety and stress that thousands and thousands of people are feeling at the moment in respect of proposed industrial action.

“I think there’s an urgent necessity now to resolve this, and to bring some peace of mind to people who’ve been planning all year to go on their holidays.”

The work-to-rule action will run from Wednesday to Sunday, with an eight-hour strike planned for Saturday.

Aer Lingus has already cancelled more than 200 flights and sought to reaccommodate 35,000 passengers amid the bitter dispute.

The airline said on Tuesday that 50 further flights would be cancelled, on Monday July 1 and Tuesday July 2, in order to “protect as many services as possible” from the planned industrial action.

“Implementing these cancellations is to enable us to protect as many services as possible for as many of our customers as possible,” it said in a statement.

“These cancellations will be implemented today and details will be communicated to impacted customers. Details of the services impacted are set out on ‘travel advisory’ page of”

The airline said that passengers due to travel between Wednesday June 26 and next Tuesday July 2 will continue to be given the option to change their flights for free, to cancel their flight and claim a refund or voucher.

“Aer Lingus fully understands the anxiety being experienced by customers given the uncertainty caused by Ialpa’s industrial action and is giving customers as many options as possible, should they wish to change their plans,” it added.

Pilots are seeking a pay increase of 24%, which they say equates to inflation since the last pay rise in 2019.

Aer Lingus has said it is willing to offer pay increases of 12.5% or above if “improvements in productivity and flexibility” are discussed.

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