Aer Lingus announced on Friday that it would reduce its workforce by up to 500 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The move comes after unions failed to accept a recovery plan that involved changes to work practices.
What to expect
As reported by the Irish Times, Aer Lingus is to cut up to 500 jobs from its 4,500-strong workforce. In the first formal step necessary for cutting jobs, the airline has notified the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection of its redundancy proposals.
Altogether, the job cuts will affect 230 pilots and cabin crew, 120 support workers, 100 ground crew, and 50 maintenance workers. The airline is in talks with unions, including Siptu and Fórsa. A spokesperson said,
“Aer Lingus is now commencing the required consultation process with employee representative organizations.”
Moreover, Neil McGowan, the aviation sector organizer for Siptu, said the union would seek to maintain as many jobs as possible while ensuring that employees only left the firm voluntarily. Fórsa, which represents cabin crew, pilots, and some management, said that it is entering talks with the airline to protect the income of members and minimize job losses.
The company warned last month that layoffs would be inevitable when an Irish government wage subsidy scheme ends on June 21st. Altogether, under the program, workers received half their salary from Aer Lingus, with the other half coming from the government. Additionally, it was anticipated that as many as 900 jobs could be lost.
Aer Lingus stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused it to only operate 5% of its usual services. Additionally, the airline has criticized the government for failing to take steps to restore air travel as progressively as other EU countries have done.
The carrier also said the situation in the Republic of Ireland had been worsened by government advice against non-essential travel. Also, the introduction of a 14-day quarantine period for incoming travelers is adding more challenges.
Workplace reform deal rejected
Aer Lingus had tabled a workplace reform program and given workers a deadline of 18:00 on June 15th to accept the proposals for changes to workplace practices. However, unions failed to meet the deadline.
According to the Irish Times, Aer Lingus Chief Executive, Sean Doyle, released a video message after the deadline had passed. Ultimately, he told workers that the proposals were no longer on the table. He said,
“Aer Lingus will now proceed with the planned layoffs and further reductions to working hours and pay that were previously communicated.” He added that the airline would be implementing the changes to work practices that were, “absolutely required in the context of the unprecedented crisis that we face.”
Fleet reductions mean inevitable job losses
Airlines are striving to survive the fallout of the coronavirus crisis. Therefore, fleet cuts and job losses are an inevitable consequence. The CEO of British Airways said this month that BA would emerge from the crisis as a much smaller airline.
Iberia said that reductions to its fleet would not be a temporary measure. Meanwhile, easyJet said it would be cutting as much as 30% of its workforce. Altogether, these numbers are being repeated in the aviation industry across the globe as the crisis bites deep.
Do you think that the airlines are doing enough to safeguard jobs? Or are the cuts unavoidable under the circumstances? Tell us what you think in the comment section.