A 24-hour strike by Aer Lingus cabin crew on Friday is still set to go ahead despite their union IMPACT accepting a management invitation for talks.

No date has yet been set for a meeting, with sources saying it was unlikely to take place before next week.

The strike has disrupted the travel plans of around 30,000 passengers, and has been estimated to cost a total of between €6 million and €10 million.

Pilots' union IALPA has voiced support for the cabin crew, who are seeking new rosters in line with those which apply to pilots.

IALPA President Captain Evan Cullen said a resolution to the current roster dispute was unlikely in the short term, and that further industrial action may take place.

He accused the airline of having an entrenched position, saying there was no logic in its refusal to give shorthaul cabin crew the same rosters as pilots.

Cpt Cullen also pledged that the union will support any pilot who feels in good conscience that he cannot operate a flight on Friday due to the strike.

Aer Lingus has insisted that the pilots' roster could not be applied to cabin crew, as it would cause inefficiency and increase cost.

Yesterday, the company warned that implementing the rosters sought by cabin crew could result in the airline establishing bases in North America to service their transatlantic routes, with the loss of 300 Irish-based jobs.

Management also told staff that they could lose access to part-time work, and be forced to take more of their leave in winter.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said it is in the best interests of Aer Lingus that employees talk with employers in an attempt to avert the strike threat.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he welcomed news that IMPACT will meet airline bosses and said the Labour Relations Commission should get involved if necessary.

He said the ongoing threat of strikes at the airline is damaging the reputation of Aer Lingus.

Mr Varadkar said that while contingencies had been put in place, it was an unnecessary inconvenience being imposed on people.

He said: "This is a dispute about rosters. It will be sorted out sooner or later and really these things should be sorted out bilaterally in talks between unions and the employer and, if not, with the help of the LRC.

"I still think at this stage the strike should be called off."