Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Aer Arann strike off after deal

Aer Lingus pilots threatened action relating to a strike by Aer Arran pilots which has been called off following talks

A threatened strike at Aer Arann has been called off after management and pilot representatives struck a deal during crunch talks.

The regional airline confirmed all services would operate fully and normally, as the planned action on Tuesday and Wednesday was cancelled.

Pilots and management had been locked in a row over pay, leaving tens of thousands of air passengers fearing travel chaos.

A new agreement, reached after hours of tense negotiations, will now be put to pilots in a ballot.

The deal re-establishes pay scale progression, which had been suspended in 2008, and proposes a retention bonus for pilots who were hired before July 22 2012 and who remain with Aer Arann after June 2014.

A separate ballot among Aer Lingus pilots has also been halted.

They have been voting since Wednesday on whether they would take industrial action in the event they were forced to fly Aer Arann routes during the planned strike.

Impact, of which the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) is a branch, said the outcome of the talks addresses pilots' concerns about management's willingness to tackle the pay issue and paves the way to reconvene a pilot pay tribunal in 2014.

"The proposed agreement will be put to a secret ballot of the Aer Arann pilots with a strong recommendation for acceptance from Aer Arann pilots' elected representatives," the union said in a statement.

"The industrial action is suspended pending the outcome of the ballot."

Aer Arann said its 27 routes will continue to operate as scheduled.

Customers will be informed by text, online, email and through the media that their flights will operate as usual, a spokesman said.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers who are, and will always be, our number one priority," he added.

Aer Arann pilots had voted with an overwhelming majority of 91% to strike against the company - action that was planned for Tuesday and Wednesday next week, and the following Friday and Saturday.

As Aer Arann is contracted by Aer Lingus to operate its regional services, p ilots at the international airline began their own ballot on industrial action, which IALPA insisted was not a "sympathy ballot".

Aer Arann pilots have been calling for a reversal in cuts and some form of restoration after five years of frozen pay.

The pilots, who took a 10% pay cut in 2009, served Aer Arann strike notice last summer.

But they eventually withdrew their threat after the company agreed to enter a pay review process and take part in an independent pay tribunal.

IALPA said despite several days of tribunal hearings, members were still not satisfied with the company's position on introducing pay rises, claiming it has continued to kick the can further down the road.

Aer Arann, which carried 116,000 passengers last month, previously insisted it would review pilots' pay when the company returns to profitability - which could be next year.

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