Aer Lingus pilots have now threatened to come out in support of their cabin crew colleagues

The row between Aer Lingus and its cabin crew intensified yesterday when the Impact trade union asked the data protection commissioner to investigate the airline for giving personal details, including mobile phone numbers, to a courier company it used to deliver dismissal threats to staff. In a separate development, pilots threatened to come out in support of their cabin crew colleagues.

The dispute over new rosters, which the union claims are incompatible with family life for the predominantly female cabin crew, grounded over 30 flights in the earlier part of the week affecting around 3,000 passengers. However, a spokesman for Aer Lingus said he was confident that it would be able to provide a full service for the remainder of the weekend and into next week.

"There will always be the situation where the odd flight may have to be cancelled but we are confident we will source more aircraft in the week ahead to provide a full service," said the Aer Lingus spokesman.

The airline has refused to say how much it has spent on hiring aircraft. "Whatever the cost it is cheaper in the long run than cancelling flights and losing customers," said the spokesman.

An Impact spokesman accused the company of trying to frighten the cabin crew into submission by threatening to sack staff who refused to work the new rosters.

The union spokesman said there is now a difference of only 20 flight hours a year – less than half an hour a week – between the two sides and that a resolution would be possible if the company was prepared to come to the table.

The union says cabin crew have agreed rosters which would get them up to 830 flight hours a year but it says the schedules imposed by management to get that up to the agreed 850 flight hours a year are unworkable and do not provide for a reasonable work-life balance.

These include a reduction in meal breaks, three hours' notice of a change of hours, and the possibility that crew could be forced to work away from base for 26 days at a time.

The airline said if some cabin crew find the new rosters do not fit in with their lifestyle than maybe it's time to part ways.

So far close to 150 cabin crew have been taken off the payroll and more are expected to follow.