Lawyers for United pilots examine new Aer Lingus pact

By Lori Ranson

Pilots at United Airlines have asked their legal advisors to review a new deal between their carrier and Aer Lingus that entails the Irish airline operating co-branded flights from Washington Dulles to Madrid.

Aer Lingus today confirmed it is setting up a base in Washington to recruit pilots and cabin crew to support the operations, which are scheduled to begin in March 2010.

Immediately after the two carriers announced the deal on 23 January United pilots lashed out against the arrangement, charging that United management was outsourcing jobs to an international company.

Additionally United pilots and their counterparts at Aer Lingus say they've developed a protocol agreement to explore options to end what they deem as "blatant disregard" and lack of pilot loyalty at both carriers.

"This partnership between United and Aer Lingus will set a dangerous precedent regarding international air travel where pilots on both sides of the Atlantic will pay a steep price," says the Air Lines Pilots Association unit at United. "We will explore every regulatory, legislative and legal avenue to protect the rights and careers of our members."

Previously, United has said the new Aer Lingus deal is permitted under the current pilot contract.

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