Aer Lingus pilots told to accept pay deal or face investment freeze – The Irish Times

Aer Lingus has warned its 784 Irish pilots if they do not accept a pay deal offered by the airline its parent company IAG will not invest further in growth, and that industrial action will not change that position.

This comes as a date for a hearing on the pay dispute at the Labour Court was confirmed for April 22nd. The dispute has involved intensive negotiations for more than a year between the airline and pilots’ union IALPA, with talks breaking down at the Workplace Relations Commission recently.

In a letter sent directly to pilots on Wednesday, Adrian Dunne, Aer Lingus’s chief operations officer outlined the backdrop to the dispute and closed with a warning that a failure to reach agreement on a pay deal would be interpreted by IAG as the “pilot body wanting an alternative future”.

“As already stated during the annual results presentations [on February 16th] IAG will not invest further in Aer Lingus growth as costs, competitiveness and productivity will not attract an investable return,” Mr Dunne’s letter states.

“For clarity, this will result in an inability to acquire aircraft through IAG, with new aircraft being allocated to other IAG carriers and the cascading effects of this for current and future employment and career progression for all employee groups.”

He cited the “potential loss” of a planned A321XLR aircraft, scheduled for delivery this year, which would reduce the “pilot requirement by 80″. IAG has warned that this aircraft could be allocated to other airlines in the group, which include British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

Pilots have rejected an 8.5 per cent increase offered by an internal company pay tribunal. The airline says the increase is actually 12.25 per cent when the costs of a crewing agreement dating back to 2019 are included.

The union are seeking 23.88 per cent, when the cost of flexibility on summer leave is factored in, while management say their demands amount to 27 per cent, when the costs of the crewing deal is included.

Aer Lingus estimates its pilot costs would rise from €157 million currently, to €174 million if its pay offer is implemented, and to €196 million if a 27 per cent increase is put through. Mr Dunne describes IALPA’s claim as “excessive, unsustainable and unjustifiable”.

The carrier also fears that increasing pilots’ pay would hit its ability to compete with its biggest rival on European routes, Ryanair.

In response to the Aer Lingus correspondence, a spokesman for IALPA described the letter as “unhelpful”, adding that the union was engaged in an industrial relations process and was doing so in good faith.

IALPA, part of trade union Fórsa, has said that Aer Lingus pilots had not had a pay increase since 2019, while the cost of living has risen by 19 per cent over that period.

Aer Lingus agreed a pay deal with cabin crew last year and also began recruiting pilots for the first time since 2019.

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