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Published: Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 1:40:02 AM
Updated: Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 1:41:04 AM

Irish court blocks planned airport strike

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's High Court issued an order on Wednesday blocking an airport strike, after Ireland's largest trade union served notice on Aer Lingus and the country's two main airport authorities that it planned a work stoppage later this week.

The union, SIPTU, had called for a four-hour stoppage at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports on Friday - the start of a holiday weekend for Ireland's St Patrick's Day - over a dispute about a shortfall in the funding of staff pension schemes.

Justice Paul Gilligan said he could understand workers' frustrations but agreed to grant an injunction sought by the Dublin Airport Authority to stop the shutdown.

"Having regard to the significant disruption that will be caused to passengers and airlines and to the economy if injunctive relief is not granted, I'm satisfied the balance of convenience in the particular circumstances favours the plaintiffs," Gilligan said.

Aer Lingus had rebooked all customers set to be affected by the strike, and Chief Executive Christoph Mueller told a conference earlier on Wednesday that "the damage had already been done."

The airline's pension scheme, which employees at Aer Lingus share with other Irish aviation industry workers, has a deficit of over 700 million euros (579 million pounds).

Aer Lingus says it is not legally obliged to help fund the scheme but has offered to make a one-off payment of 140 million euros. SIPTU -- the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union -- says that is not enough.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Sarah O'Connor; Editing by Larry King)

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