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Aer Lingus Pilots Union Puts Company On Notice Of 'Deteriorating Situation In The Pilot Body' At Airline

Published on Nov 25 2021 10:30 AM in General Industry tagged: Trending Posts / Aer Lingus / Dublin Airport / DAA

Aer Lingus Pilots Union Puts Company On Notice Of 'Deteriorating Situation In The Pilot Body' At Airline

The Aer Lingus pilots union has put the company on notice of a "deteriorating situation in the pilot body" at the airline.


As reported by The Irish Independent, among the issues currently angering some pilots is the changing of arrangements for crews travelling on US flights over Christmas from both Dublin and the airline's new Manchester base.

Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) president Captain Evan Cullen reportedly wrote in a letter to Aer Lingus chief people officer Brian Bowden that there are "a growing number of issues which if not managed correctly will eventually have significant operational outcomes for Aer Lingus", and reportedly identified other problems including training and scheduling raised by pilots at recent general meetings with the union regarding the airline's flight operations department

Cullen reportedly wrote, "We are no longer in the business of preventing and/or cleaning up the fallout from problems not of our making," and reportedly added that the union has endeavoured to anticipate the issues and propose solutions without success.

Cullen's concern with the "classification and treatment of Christmas trips" reportedly related to the practice of the airline in other years to leave aircraft and their crew for up to four days at US airports such as JFK.

Younger crew reportedly in particular would volunteer for the special Christmas duty and would be paid up to $150 (€131) in expenses.

The crew would reportedly also be given access to free or reduced price tickets for family members to make the journey to the US for the period.

But this year the airline has reportedly indicated to staff that it will instead bring a second crew on impacted flights over Christmas, so that they can return to Ireland and will not have to spend Christmas in the US, according to sources.

The row is reportedly seen as symptomatic of the growing frustration being felt by pilots at the airline who have reportedly suffered a severe cut in earnings since COVID-19 struck.

The airline has reportedly been paying its pilots 50% of their pay and trying to keep as many of them "current". Pilots reportedly need at least three take-offs and three landings every 90 days to meet the requirements of their commercial pilot licences.

The pilots' union has reportedly long been a key player in the industrial relations landscape at the airline but over the last 18 months the union had reportedly largely stayed out of the rows and negotiations that were under way between management and ground staff and cabin crew.

But sources reportedly say that many pilots have become increasingly disgruntled in recent times. They are reportedly due to return to 80% pay after being on half pay for more than a year.

With a greatly decreased schedule operating throughout the pandemic, many pilots have reportedly had limited flying time, and this has led to a huge amount of frustration among staff, the source reportedly said.

Some senior pilots have reportedly argued that cutting back on pilot numbers and restoring full pay for those who have remained would be a more sensible approach.

Others have argued that it was correct to prioritise retaining the jobs of more junior pilots who would have lost out if such an approach had been taken, the source reportedly said.

Aer Lingus reportedly declined to comment when contacted by The Sunday Independent.

Survey Results Show Huge Dissatisfaction Among Dublin Airport Staff

Meanwhile, as also reported by The Irish Independent, the results of an internal survey have shown huge dissatisfaction among staff at Dublin Airport, prompting DAA boss Dalton Philips to say that there "is clearly a lot of work needed" to rebuild the business.

Operational, infrastructure and security staff at DAA's main Dublin base reportedly said that the company and management's performance had disimproved across almost every category surveyed since a previous staff survey in 2019.

Philips reportedly told staff in a special video message, "I won't say that I'm not disappointed to see us take a step backwards in some areas, but I'm also a realist so I fully understand the impact the last two years have had".

Philips reportedly pledged to put a plan in place that would rebuild the business "even stronger than before" when the country emerges from the COVID-19 crisis.

Philips reportedly said that he was not entirely surprised by the poor staff survey results. "Let's not sugar coat it - the last two years have probably been the most difficult the business has ever had in its history," he reportedly said in the video message. "We've seen our passenger numbers completely wiped out, our stores shut, our finances decimated.

"We've said goodbye to more than a third of our workforce - great colleagues, great friends.

"We've had to make huge sacrifices on pay and working hours and embrace new ways of working just to keep our business afloat."

Philips reportedly told staff that "lots of you have raised concerns and highlighted a range of challenges" in areas such as their personal level of engagement with the business, their pay and benefits and the level of empowerment and support they are receiving in their role, and reportedly said, "When you look back at our 2019 results, we have had a clear step back in some of these areas in some key parts of the business."

Philips reportedly admitted that staff were "grappling" with a range of challenges "from rosters, to the pressure you face in your role, to facilities, working arrangements, career progression and more", and reportedly said that he was "personally working through every single comment that was made."

Philips reportedly said, "I have been reading literally thousands of comments."

By contrast, staff at Cork Airport, Aer Rianta International and in management functions were reportedly much more positive about the business, particularly around how DAA had responded to COVID-19.

"You have also expressed your appreciation at the decision to keep pay and working hours at 80pc during the crisis at a time when most others in the industry weren't," he reportedly said.

A DAA spokesperson reportedly said that almost 80% of staff had responded, the highest survey response rate it had ever received, and, "From this week, we have begun to share the results across the business at a company, as well as a specific business area level. As with all previous staff survey results we will review the survey results with our employees presently, formulate an action plan to work on across the company and then undertake a series of initiatives as in previous years to further our mutual aim to make DAA a great place to work."

© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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