Thousands of Ulster air travellers could today breathe a sigh of relief after a proposed lockout of staff by Aer Lingus was called off.
The Dublin-based airline had threatened to suspend its 480 pilots from tomorrow, grounding all of its flights, following a bitter dispute over pay and conditions for pilots at the company's new Belfast base. However, it has been announced that the lockout has been averted.
And that is good news for up to 15,000 passengers who use the airline's services each day, including thousands from Northern Ireland who travel to Dublin Airport daily to board its flights.
There had been fears that the airline's flights could have been disrupted for several weeks.
After more than 20 hours of talks at the Republic's Labour Relations Commission over the weekend, management and pilots said they had agreed terms and conditions for staff at the airline's new base in Belfast.
Impact, an umbrella group that includes Ialpa, the union for Irish pilots, said it would recommend the deal to pilots at a meeting yesterday.
And the union said it was confident the agreement would be accepted by its members.
Impact explained it had reached an agreement with management on pension conditions and promotions based on seniority for pilots at the Belfast hub, which is due to be operational in December.
Michael Landers, assistant general secretary at Impact, said on balance it was a deal which could be recommended to its members.
Aer Lingus chief executive, Dermot Mannion, said that the airline's hub at Belfast International Airport would now open on schedule.
The scene for the weekend talks was set last week when Aer Lingus pledged to suspend any pilots who refused to confirm their "willingness" to help train and recruit pilots for the airline's planned base at Aldergrove.
Aer Lingus had given pilots until 1pm yesterday to declare they were willing to help, and vowed that anyone who did not sign up would be suspended from 3am.
Last week the airline also suspended seven pilots who refused to train staff - and it warned more suspensions could follow.
Since July, pilots have adopted a policy of non co-operation with the Belfast base because of their concerns about the terms and conditions.