Industrial unrest leaves Aer Lingus paying cost

IRISH airline Aer Lingus carried about a fifth fewer passengers in January than a year ago on the back of route cuts and a dispute with cabin crew over longer working hours.

Aer Lingus said yesterday 552,000 passengers were booked to fly with it in January, a 17 per cent decrease on last year, and flight cancellations meant the numbers who actually flew that month were four per cent below the booking levels.

A three-week stand-off with 215 cabin crew over longer working hours ended on Friday with crew agreeing to work the new rosters in exchange for clarity over meal breaks, time off and the length of tours of duty.

Aer Lingus had raised the number of annual flight hours to 850 from 830 as part of cost-cutting measures to return it to profitability.

The company’s booked load factor – a measure of how well an airline fills its planes – fell by 3.6 points in January to just under 64 per cent.