In what could be the first batch of bad news yet to come, Irish public service Trade Union Fórsa says 130 Aer Lingus cabin crew and airport workers based at Cork Airport will be laid off after summer. Fórsa says the Irish national flag carrier plans to lay off the workers between September and November without pay as it continues to struggle following the impact of the coronavirus.
Currently, Aer Lingus staff are on 60% of total payment as the IAG-owned airline tries to cope with mounting losses due to the pandemic. Aer Lingus is due to meet with union representatives later today and could face the prospect of yet more bad news. During the first quarter of 2021, Aer Lingus lost €103 million ($125.8 million), prompting its CEO to warn staff that cuts will be needed should another summer be lost to COVID-19.
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Aer Lingus has to adapt
In a video released to staff on May 14 following the first-quarter results, the Aer Lingus boss Lynne Embleton said that the airline had too many resources and had to adapt to the current financial situation. The former CEO of IAG Cargo explained that the Irish Republic’s non-essential travel ban and controversial hotel quarantines were hurting the airline.
The carrier’s first-ever female CEO also told staff that the Irish Government’s lack of a plan for reopening wasn’t helping matters either.
In an article published following the first-quarter results, The Irish Times Newspaper quotes the airline executive as saying the following:
“In the immediate term, as a result of the restrictions and the lack of a roadmap, we have got very few bookings for the months ahead, and it’s clear that we’re going to have a smaller schedule and a smaller fleet than previously anticipated.”
If you read between the lines, what Ms. Embleton says is that Aer Lingus is hemorrhaging money and needs to downsize to survive the current crisis. This, of course, means shedding jobs and cutting capacity.
Aer Lingus is not optimistic about the summer
Unlike other airlines that are banking on a busy summer travel season being their savior, Ms. Embleton does not appear to share their optimism and is preparing to make drastic cuts.
Meanwhile, Fórsa is asking the government for help and has proposed an aviation income support scheme to help save jobs. When speaking ahead of this afternoon’s meeting with Aer Lingus, the head of Fórsa’s Services and Enterprises Division Ashley Connolly told Ireland’s National Television and Radio Broadcaster RTÉ the following:
“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.”
RTÉ also said that the Irish Cabinet was due to meet today to discuss a memo on the gradual lifting of travel restrictions over the next few months, but that has now been delayed, according to the Irish broadcaster.
Cork Airport to close for three months
The three months off for Aer Lingus cabin crew and workers coincides with Cork Airports’ plan to close for ten weeks while it repairs its main runway. The airport will close from September 10 until November 22 while it performs reconstruction work on Runway 16/34.
Things certainly do not look well for Aer Lingus in Ireland, which is perhaps why they decided to set up a base for transatlantic flights in Manchester.
What do you think Aer Lingus should do, and do you think the Irish Government should help them? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.