Aer Lingus dispute: Family ‘devastated’ after holiday cancelled

Image source, Andrew McKee

Image caption, Mr McKee with his children, Lucy, five, and Toby, eight

A County Down man has spoken of his children’s disappointment after their “holiday of a lifetime” to Disneyland was cancelled due to the Aer Lingus pay dispute.

Aer Lingus has cancelled at least 220 flights amid planned industrial action by pilots.

An indefinite work-to-rule is due to begin on Wednesday with an eight-hour strike planned for Saturday.

The airline and the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) are to attend separate meetings at the Labour Court later to discuss the matter.

Andrew McKee, from Bangor, was among a party of nine due to set off on Wednesday to Orlando, Florida, but found out on Friday that the flights were cancelled.

“I have a five-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy and they were just devastated whenever I told them,” Mr McKee said.

Rug ‘swept up from under us’

Mr McKee’s daughter, Lucy, cried when he told her the news.

“It’s something that you really build up to,” he said.

“They had a little countdown that we were doing, saying we had so many sleeps until we were going away, and my son, he’s a little bit older, so he sort of understands it, but at the same time he’s still a child.”

His youngest was particularly disappointed on missing out on the trip to Disneyland.

“Lucy was really excited to see Cinderella and Snow White and all the princesses.

“It’s magical and all of a sudden the rug got swept up from under us.”

Aer Lingus offered Mr McKee the option of changing his flights or applying for a refund, but “the problem is that’s just the flight element”, said Mr McKee.

“There’s the park tickets, there’s the accommodation, there’s the car hire, you know everything else,” he added.

Image source, Press Association

Image caption, Aer Lingus and the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association are to attend separate meetings in Dublin on Tuesday to discuss the pay dispute

Mr McKee, his wife, two children, mother and sister’s family were supposed to fly out from Dublin.

Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Micheál Martin said the public were being ignored by both sides in the dispute.

“They’ve planned for these, they’ve saved for these – it’s shocking that they’re being ignored, and wilfully, if you like, put to one side in this battle between the management of Aer Lingus and unions,” Mr Martin said.

The airline said it had issued a fresh invite to IALPA for direct talks but the union said it would not re-enter negotiations that came with preconditions around flexibility and productivity.

‘It’s hard’

Mr McKee said he supports pilots taking strike action, despite his plight.

“I think the pilots have a very difficult job in that they deserve to get paid well… but at the same time, it’s hard.”

“The only good thing is we had it booked as a package, so I guess we’ll be looked after by our travel agent.”

Mr McKee and his family are now thinking about planning the holiday for next year instead.


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