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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

24-hour strike grounds 202 Aer Lingus flights affecting 28,000 passengers at 3 Irish airports

DUBLIN - A 24-hour strike at Irish airline Aer Lingus has grounded 202 flights and decimated traffic at the Republic of Ireland's three main airports in a union dispute over work schedules.

Aer Lingus offered free refunds or rescheduled bookings to an estimated 28,000 passengers obstructed by Friday's protest by the IMPACT trade union, which wants three-day breaks between work periods.

The airline has suffered repeated strike threats from its unionized staff as it seeks to compete with Dublin-based budget airline leader Ryanair.

IMPACT leaders argue that Aer Lingus should allow cabin crews to work in a pattern of five days on duty and three days off, the schedule already provided to pilots. They say Aer Lingus sometimes makes flight attendants work six days in a row, with a single day off.

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