Flights off for 30,000 in Aer Lingus strike
Up to 30,000 people will have their holiday plans plunged into chaos after talks to avert an Aer Lingus pilot strike collapsed.
Aer Lingus sources told the Herald there was a "distinct possibility" that flights will be completely grounded from next Tuesday due to the planned pilots' strike.
Consumer representative Dermott Jewell said that passengers are being left high and dry.
"This situation puts prepaid consumers' arrangements, budgets holidays and, in certain cases, jobs in turmoil," he said.
"Realistic alternatives must be sourced by Aer Lingus."
Negotiations between the two sides dramatically collapsed at Labour Relations Commission in the early hours of this morning. Afterwards, the airline issued a brief statement which offered little hope for intending passengers.
"The company will now consider what contingency plans can be put in place for its customers to deal with the planned industrial action," Aer Lingus said.
"We apologise to our customers for the uncertainty and inconvenience this causes."
Customers who have booked on flights next week have been offered refunds.
Passengers who hoped to travel on Tuesday or Wednesday can apply to get their money back online or change their flight date for free.
Flights across the entire Irish airline's network will be affected as pilot representatives and management refuse to budge on key roster issues.
The Irish Airline Pilots Association section of the Impact union claim they are being asked to work up to six days in a row with just one day's break due to a shortage of staff.
But the airline says it has hired agency staff to make up numbers.
Pilots based in Cork and Dublin airports will report for duty an hour later than their rostered times and will refuse to work on rostered free days or annual leave days.
Both sides have described the talks as constructive and Michael Landers from Impact said that there was significant progress made on a set of short-term issues.
Talks broke down at 1am this morning and there are no immediate plans to reconvene, union and management representatives outlined.
Aer Lingus apologised to intending passengers for the distress caused as a result of the threatened disruption.
"We realise that this is extremely disruptive for our customers and we apologise most sincerely for the distress this is causing," it said.