Aer Lingus on Tuesday was again forced to cancel several flights as cabin crew who are members of the IMPACT union maintained their refusal to accept new duty rosters. The rosters were introduced last week as part of the carrier’s objective of increasing the cabin’s crew overall working time to 850 block hours a year.

Last week EI chartered up to nine aircraft, including four from Ryanair, to limit the level of flights disruptions resulting from the escalating dispute. According to Irish media, more than 175 of the airline's 1,050 cabin crew have been removed from the payroll for refusing to operate new rosters.

IMPACT argues that the introduction of the new rosters is not part of the carrier’s so-called Greenfield restructuring plan that was outlined in October 2009 by its newly appointed CEO Christoph Mueller. Project Greenfield aims to reduce annual operating costs, excluding fuel, by €97 million ($132 million) before the end of this year and remove “legacy” practices from its operations. After difficult negotiations, IMPACT accepted in early 2010 the requirement to increase flying hours to 850 a year but it insists that its members “did not vote to accept the roster changes imposed by management” last week.

The union opposes the elimination of mid-flight lunch breaks on shorthaul flights as well as the fact that the new rules require staff members to alter their work schedules by up to three hours at short notice.