Belfast Telegraph

91% of airline pilots back strike

Aer Arran pilots have voted with an overwhelming majority in favour of industrial action against the company over a pay dispute.

Talks within the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) are under way over when the strike will begin after 91% of members supported the action in a ballot.

Aer Arran, which operates regional services at Aer Lingus, described the move as "regrettable" during the busiest time of the travel season.

Around 100 pilots will take part in the strike, which is expected to cause travel chaos for thousands of air passengers.

They are calling for a reversal in cuts and some form of restoration after almost five years of frozen pay.

A spokesman for IALPA said the question now is what type of industrial action will be enacted.

"A formal legal process has to happen," he said.

"We are not yet clear on what form the industrial action will take and when it will happen. This has yet to be determined and we will discuss it at length with all our members."

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

But they eventually withdrew their threat after the company agreed to enter a pay review process and 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 Arran, which carried 116,000 passengers last month, has insisted it will review pilots' pay when the company returns to profitability - which could be next year.

In a statement, it said management and pilots reached agreement on a number of issues last year, including participation in the pay tribunal.

It said pilots and their advisers were given access to all commercial data of the company, including its restructuring and growth plans, but all subsequent proposals were rejected.

"We have always stated to all staff that once a return to profitability is achieved, pay will be reviewed," Aer Arran said.

"From where we were just two years ago, the airline is making real progress.

"Passenger numbers are up, new aircraft are coming on stream, and the route network is expanding. Our projections are for a return to profitability next year."

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