IALPA president says there will be no 'lightning strike' by pilots

Ialpa President Says There Will Be No 'Lightning Strike' By Pilots
Pilots in Aer Lingus have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over pay (PA), © PA Archive/PA Images
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Vivienne Clarke

Updated at 10:48

The president of the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA), Mark Tighe, has said that there will not be a lightning strike by pilots in the ongoing dispute with Aer Lingus over pay.


The legal requirement was a minimum of seven days' notice for strike action, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, but IALPA was considering a request from Aer Lingus for 15 days' notice to allow time to minimise disruption to customers.

Mr Tighe defended the union’s claim of up to 25 per cent for the top grades, saying they had negotiated in good faith for 22 months for raises that were due to inflation.

Other workers had received increases linked to inflation in stages of one per cent, two per cent and three per cent over the period of time in question.

British Airways, which is owned by the same company IAG, had sanctioned a 24 per cent increase for their pilots over the same time period, claimed Mr Tighe.


It took 26 years of passing gruelling assessments and checks, both in the air and on the ground, to get the rank of captain, he said.

When asked about the possibility of imminent strike action, Mr Tighe said that the possibility was always there, but he hoped that Aer Lingus management would “come to their senses” and acknowledge the “reasonability” of the inflation-linked pay-claim.

“They should have adjusted our pay like most people's, gradually. They've ignored this and, as a result, now they're looking at this figure.”

Mr Tighe said that negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission had already been held, but a resolution had not been agreed. “That path has been done. The process is complete. And now the pilots are relying upon their legal rights.”


There had been an opportunity for the airline to come to an agreement under the auspices of the WRC, but they had not done so, he said.

Mr Tighe said he did not want to have a strike. “I want the company to come to their senses, but unfortunately they haven't. And all that is left for the pilots to express their rights is to walk this path.”

Minimise disruption

IALPA remained available to meet with the company and would consider their position “as we go. And as soon as we know what exactly is going to happen next, we will inform everybody.”

It comes as Donal Moriarty, chief corporate affairs officer with Aer Lingus, said the airline will attempt to minimise disruption to customers and has sought 15 days strike notice from the Irish Airline Pilot Association to do that.


Mr Moriarty told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the pilots seemed determined to inflict “the disruption of industrial action on the travelling public this summer.”

Aer Lingus was preparing for that and would be communicating with customers to lay out their options to minimise disruption. However, it would be “significant”, he said.

“The challenge at this time of the year is that all airlines are busy, not just Aer Lingus, and seeking to re-accommodate passengers on other airlines.

"It's very difficult because of how busy they are, but our commitment to customers is that we will communicate clearly and effectively to them, setting out what options they have.


“We've asked IALPA for 15 days notice in order to give us as great an opportunity as possible, to re-accommodate as many of our customers as possible. So it's simply a practical matter of trying to re-accommodate.

"So we've asked for that 15 days notice. They haven't responded yet or they haven't accepted that 15 days notice. So we're still awaiting their response on that front.”

That 15 days would give the airline the greatest opportunity to reaccommodate customers, he explained. “The last thing we want is disruption to our customers. But equally, we can't be held to ransom by IALPA seeking a 24 percent increase in pay.”

Mr Moriarty said that the overall package being sought by IALPA involved €50,000 at the top end of the scale for over 200 pilots that would deliver an overall package for them of just under €350,000.

"That €50,000 increase is actually more than the annual pay of 3,500 of our 5,500 employees. So on that basis alone, it's untenable.”

The majority of pilots in the airline were in the “middle range of the scale”, he said, which was an overall package of close to €200,000.

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