Belfast Telegraph

Flight staff suspended over rosters

More than 80 Aer Lingus staff have been suspended from their jobs and dozens of flights were grounded as a rosters row threatened to cause travel chaos.

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has been urged to intervene in the deepening row which, it is claimed, could hit Ireland's already damaged international reputation.

So far, 120 cabin crew have refused to co-operate with new rosters, with 82 of those removed from the payroll, or suspended without wages.

The disruption has resulted in 34 flights from Dublin to major European hubs being cancelled on Thursday, affecting around 2,700 passengers.

Further fall-out is expected unless industrial relations experts step in.

Simon Nugent, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), called on Mr Dempsey to "knock heads together" by bringing in a mediator.

Flights affected include services to Manchester, Birmingham, Barcelona, Brussels, Paris, Dusseldorf, Berlin, London Heathrow, Amsterdam, Lyon, Hamburg, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich and Edinburgh.

Mr Nugent said it was "bizarre" that Aer Lingus did not have a contingency plan to keep vital routes operating smoothly during what he branded a low-level falling-out.

"A lot of people flying to Madrid would be going on to South America, a lot of people flying to Frankfurt or Amsterdam would be going on to Asia, Africa, you name it," he said.

"These are key starter flights for long-haul trips and a lot of them would be business trips that are being disrupted."

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