Aer Lingus, Ireland's flag-carrying airline, today said that it intends to permanently close its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport.
81 Aer Lingus cabin crew worked from the Shannon base and they will be offered either enhanced severance or, where possible, transfer to Dublin. A further 45 ground staff in Shannon will remain laid off, according to RTÉ.
Aer Lingus employees at Shannon had been laid off without pay since March but were expected to return to work in June. Aer Lingus has not been operating flights in or out of Shannon Airport since April 2020.
The Irish airline also confirmed that its Cork Airport base will be temporarily closed from September through late November of this year. In turn, close to 200 employees will be laid off during that period.
Clare FM, who reports that the proposed Aer Lingus redundancies will take effect from July 1st, published the statement issued by Aer Lingus today, May 18: “On Friday 7th May, Aer Lingus issued financial results which showed that the airline lost €103 million in the first three months of 2021. This is on top of a loss of €361 million in 2020.
“Aer Lingus staff were today advised that the cumulative impact of the crisis over the last 15 months means immediate actions and structural changes are required at the airline. The airline must be more cost-efficient and productive in order to generate the cash required to rebuild its financial health.
“Immediate actions announced today by the airline include the permanent closure of the Aer Lingus cabin crew base at Shannon airport; the temporary closure of the Aer Lingus base at Cork airport from September until late November 2021; commencement of a review of our ground handling requirements in both Shannon and Cork airports; and the continuation of reduced working hours and associated pay reductions and lay-offs and the potential for more lay-offs.
“Structural change will also be required across the business. The required structural changes will be specific to each business area but will focus primarily on the areas where there is off-market pay, terms, conditions, and work practices.
“Aer Lingus confirmed to staff that the airline will emerge smaller from the pandemic and there will be a requirement for redundancies.
“Aer Lingus has commenced discussions with Unions representing employees in Aer Lingus regarding both the immediate and structural changes that need to be implemented.”
Responding to the announcement from Aer Lingus, Mary Considine, CEO of Shannon Group, said: “Our thoughts are with the Shannon-based Aer Lingus employees impacted by this decision. It is extremely disappointing news for them.
“This announcement highlights once again the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across the aviation sector here. Restoring regional connectivity and international travel will be pivotal to economic recovery as we emerge from the effects of the pandemic. Critical to this will be the urgent implementation of a clear road map and timelines for the restart of aviation.
“Aer Lingus remains a valued partner for Shannon Group, and we value our long-established and continuing relationship with the airline. We are committed to working with them and all our aviation partners on the restoration of vital services to and from Shannon Airport which are critical for business and tourism sectors."
Irish trade unions Fórsa and SIPTU commended today's announcement from Aer Lingus and placed the blame on the Irish government.
Ashley Connolly, head of Fórsa’s Services and Enterprises Division, said: “Since Covid struck, we have fought hard to maintain links between staff and their employer so that Aer Lingus and other airlines are ready to bounce back once international travel starts to resume.
"The Government needs to decide if the crisis in this vital industry is to be permanent or temporary.
“Only the State has the power and resources to preserve Ireland’s vital international connectivity – the connectivity that supports thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs – over the coming months, and possibly years."
Neil McGowan, SIPTU Sector Organiser, said: “This announcement by Aer Lingus further highlights the fact that the aviation industry will be one of the last sectors of our economy to recover. This makes the case for additional supports for aviation workers all the more urgent.
"SIPTU representatives have been calling for the introduction of specific supports for aviation workers while the uncertainty around the current wage supports and the pandemic unemployment payments beyond June are only adding to the workers' concerns.
“It is vital that Government gives certainty to aviation workers and that Aer Lingus supports its employees who have already suffered financial hardship for over one year.”
Captain Evan Cullen of the Irish Air Lines Pilots Association (IALPA) said today's announcements from Aer Lingus are a "direct result of Irish government policy." The organization called for aviation to be added to today's Cabinet meeting.
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