A 24-hour strike by Aer Lingus cabin crew disrupted around 200 flights at Ireland’s three main airports on Friday, ahead of the country’s bank holiday weekend.
Workers staged pickets at Dublin, Cork, and Shannon airport, in protest against working hours that are leaving staff exhausted, public sector trade union Impact has argued.
Some cabin crew said that rota arrangements were damaging their family lives and that the action was a last resort.
Hundreds of those who marched on the airline’s headquarters at Dublin airport delivered a letter of protest to the chief executive Christoph Mueller who was booed by the rally.
“For three years we have raised concerns about the erratic nature of our rosters,” the letter states.
“We have become accustomed to the chaotic work patterns that are a direct product of those rosters, to the point where we understand the detrimental effect they are having on cabin crew, and the corrosive effect that they are having on the airline too.”
But as the strike has grounded most of the carrier’s fleet and affected the travel plans of 30,000 people, Aer Lingus denounced the strike and accused cabin crew of driving customers into the arms of its competitors.
As the strike action notice was publicised two weeks ago, many customers did not book with Aer Lingus and of the 28,000 who had tickets, around half of them cancelled and half were booked on to earlier or later flights.
A spokesman for the firm said on Friday: “Aer Lingus cabin crew enjoy some of the most favourable working conditions in Ireland.”
Aer Lingus has brought in outside crew and planes in an attempt to minimise the disruption. The firm's pilots have backed the cabin crew and informed the airline they would not co-operate with alternative plans to carry passengers.
Management and union leaders are expected to meet on Wednesday to try to break the deadlock.
Additional reporting by PA