Aer Lingus Strike, Cancellations & Chaos knock-on effect on Tourism

Monday, June 24, 2024. 10:21am
Aer Lingus Strike - Cancellations and Chaos knock-on effect on Tourism

Aer Lingus Strike Action – Cancellations and Chaos

The dispute and timeline

Recent developments in the ongoing dispute between Air Lingus and Ialpa, which represents 800 pilots who are employed by the airline, have provoked panic and uncertainty. The dispute has escalated in the last few days, resulting in an indefinite ‘work to rule’ notice which will commence on Wednesday June the 26th. Also announced on Friday was an all-out strike action for eight hours on Saturday the 28th of June. This will see the airline cancelling up to 20% of their flights between Wednesday the 26th and Sunday the 30th of June. This is causing much distress for both customers who are planning holidays in this peak time and commercial passengers who travel for business. This will impact on the travel plans of between 30,000 to 40,000 passengers.

Air Lingus has assured customers that will do their utmost to minimise this impact through clear communication with customers and travel agents and refunds, vouchers and options to be rebooked will be offered. The rights of the passenger will also be protected under EU laws. This dispute has been escalating steadily since December of 2023 when an independent pilot pay tribunal recommended a 12.5% pay increase, which was not accepted. This dispute was then taken to the Labour Court in May and an interim pay increase of 9.5% was recommended, which was strongly rejected by Ialpa, who are seeking an increase of 23.8%.

The union asserts that this increase is wholly justified, as there has been no increase in rate of pay since 2019 and this rate of 23.8% is in line with the rate of inflation over this period. This increase, which is line with British Airways, which is also part of the IAG group. Two ballots have taken place, initially there was an electronic ballot and when the validity of this ballot was questioned, Ialpa sought another paper ballot to take place which indicated that there was an overwhelming number of voters in favour of industrial action.

The inevitable impact of Aer Lingus strikes

Since the plans for Aer Lingus strike action have been announced, the impact on Aer Lingus and its passengers was instantaneous, with customers cancelling plans to fly with the airline for the foreseeable future. In essence, the damage has already been done prior to the strike. The Government is appealing to both parties to resolve this dispute by continued negotiations as the impact on jobs and the economy will be substantial moving forward.

Travel agents are already seeing major drops in bookings, claiming that many are cancelling their trips to Ireland, this is deeply concerting especially at this peak time for travel. There is also the risk that Ireland will be bypassed due to travellers having to seek alternative routes, which will also impact the industry

The knock-on effect on tourism and hospitality

Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive, Walsh Irish Tourism Industry Confederation highlighted the damage this strike may cause to the industry in an article in the Irish Times last week

“Tourism is the country’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer and, as an island nation, air access is obviously critical. Our reputation as a friendly welcoming destination has been hard won but could be quickly lost.

This strike action could have a significantly negative impact on tourism industry which will in turn affect the hospitality industry, especially in rural areas. Tourism is the single biggest industry in rural Ireland and employs over 250,000 people. Many customers travel to Dublin regularly for short stays, but when visitors travel elsewhere in country it is usually for a longer period, so local economy may suffer as a result.  A swift resolution would be the best outcome moving forward, and hopefully the negative impact of this dispute can be reversed

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