Irish emigrants face a Christmas nightmare after cabin crew at Aer Lingus voted to go on strike over the holiday season.

The threat of a strike across the Aer Lingus network is now real according to union officials representing stewards and hostesses.

They voted in favor of strike action in a row over the closure of a cabin crew base at Shannon Airport and an ongoing dispute over rosters and pensions.

Shares in the former state airline fell by as much as nine percent in trading on Monday, before and after news of the strike vote emerged.

Cabin staff, members of the IMPACT union, voted 91 percent in favor of action in a ballot, according to a report in the Irish Independent.

The paper says the union will make a decision in regard to its next move in coming days.
An IMPACT spokesman told the paper: “A strike is now a distinct possibility.”

The cabin crew vote comes just weeks after the airline’s pilot body threatened strike action in support of colleagues at Aer Arann, which operates a regional service on behalf of Aer Lingus.

The Aer Lingus pilots have also threatened to take industrial action twice in the past 12 months in a row over the company’s pension scheme.

The Aer Lingus pension scheme, run in conjunction with the Dublin Airport Authority, has a deficit of over a billion dollars.

The company says it simply cannot pay out expected pension benefits unless it is dramatically restructured and such action could lead to reduced pension payments for existing and former staff who have not yet retired.