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Staff to be laid off as Aer Lingus permanently closes Shannon cabin crew base

Aer Lingus has also confirmed plans for the temporary closure of its base at Cork airport.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Updated May 18th 2021, 6:10 PM

AER LINGUS IS to lay off staff as it announces it is to permanently close its cabin crew base in Shannon and temporarily close its Cork cabin crew base. 

There are 81 cabin crew in the Shannon base and they are to be offered enhanced severance terms or where feasible, base transfer to Dublin. 

Approximately 45 ground staff in the Shannon base will also be laid off. 

Aer Lingus has also confirmed the temporary closure of its base at Cork airport from September until late November 2021. Approximately 60 ground staff and 138 cabin crew in Cork will be temporarily laid off during this period. 

The company said it has commenced a review of its ground handling requirements in both Shannon and Cork airports. 

The airline also announced the continuation of reduced working hours and associated pay reductions and lay-offs, warning of the possibility of further lay-offs.

“Structural changes 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 said in a statement. 

Aer Lingus said it has confirmed to staff that the airline will “emerge smaller” from the Covid-19 pandemic and “there will be a requirement for redundancies”. 

On 7 May, Aer Lingus said it had lost €103 million in the first three months of 2021, on top of a loss of €361 million last year. 

The airline said the cumulative impact of the crisis over the last 15 months means immediate action and structural changes are required at the airline. 

Aer Lingus has commenced discussions with unions representing employees in the airline regarding both the immediate and structural changes that need to be implemented. 

Trade union Fórsa said it is meeting with the airline this afternoon. 

The union said it wanted a “meaningful engagement” aimed at maximising job retention and getting laid off crew back to work as quickly as possible. 

“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 resumes,” Ashley Connelly, head of Fórsa’s services and enterprises division, said. 

“The government needs to decide if the crisis in this vital industry is to be permanent or temporary,” she said. 

Trade Union Siptu said it’s members are “devastated” at today’s announcement. 

“Our members are devastated and extremely disappointed by today’s announcement,” Siptu sector organiser Neil McGowan said. 

“The workers involved have been on significantly reduced earnings throughout the pandemic and this latest announcement comes as a further blow,” he said. 

“We are calling on the company to engage with our union to ensure the workers are kept on the payroll.” 

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Government response

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was very “sad news” coming from Shannon today. 

He said travel has been at rock bottom but Cabinet will next week decide on the wider issue of travel, adding that reopening travel is central to the government’s reopening plan for the summer. 

Martin said getting international travel back up and running is a necessity for the country’s economic well being. 

Fine Gael’s Clare and Limerick Oireachtas members have said they have secured a commitment from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar that he will, along with Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton, seek an urgent meeting with Aer Lingus looking for a deferral of today’s decision to close the Shannon base. 

Meanwhile, the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) is calling on the government to extend this evening’s Cabinet meeting and place aviation recovery back on the agenda. 

“Ireland remains an outlier in the European Union in having the most restrictive travel regime whilst simultaneously providing the least support to indigenous aviation and its workers,” Captain Evan Cullen said. 

“The job losses announced today send a warning sign of imminent further industry and economic contraction as a result of government inaction. The security of 143,000 people whose jobs depend on Irish aviation deserve to be considered a top priority of this government,” Cullen said. 

In a statement this evening, Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine said their “thoughts are with the Shannon based Aer Lingus employees impacted by this decision”. 

With reporting by Christina Finn

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