26/02/2008

Irish Deal Halts Air Travel Chaos

After yesterday's news that the threat of a strike at Aer Lingus had been averted - following agreement on reforms and work practices - air travellers in the Irish Republic have again had good news as planned industrial action by air traffic controllers has also been halted.

Due to hit travel for 24-hours today (Tuesday), the last minute deal has now seen union representatives agreeing to suspend industrial action.

The move by Impact, which is representing the controllers, covers the overtime ban, which was due to come into effect today, and the 24-hour stoppage which was to start on Thursday.

Aer Lingus' earlier problems were to kick in on Monday - on the same day the airline launched two new services from its new Belfast International Airport 'hub'.

The threat of a strike was only lifted on Sunday night after management and the SIPTU union reached an agreement after intense talks of almost 36 hours.

Aer Lingus had initially threatened to suspend staff if they failed to co-operate with new work practices that were due to be introduced without union agreement.

However, after talks with the union a package of reforms and work practices was agreed.

SIPTU said it will spend this week consulting with members to explain the deal and the package will then be put to a ballot of members.

Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion issued an apology to passengers for the "uncertainty of recent days", but welcomed the airline's expansion of its network of routes from Belfast International Airport with the introduction of flights to Rome and Malaga, four times a week from Monday.

Today, Faro and Budapest are being added to the list, with three flights a week on each route.

The expansion brings to eight the number of routes introduced by the airline since December, when the airline opened its new Belfast hub.

(BMcC)


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