Aer Lingus has announced that it will permanently close its Shannon cabin crew base and lay off Cork crew for three months.
The 81 cabin crew in the Shannon base will have the options of enhanced severance terms or base transfer to Dublin where possible, according to The Irish Examiner.
The 45 Shannon-based ground crew will continue to be laid off.
Between September 12th and November 22nd, 198 Cork-based staff are to be temporarily laid off without pay – 60 ground staff and 138 cabin crew.
Cork Airport will be closed between these dates to facilitate a complete upgrade of its main runway.
The company has notified the Government that all of its Shannon-based crew are “in scope for redundancy” and is seeking to reduce the Cork headcount by 10.
Aer Lingus has warned of possible further lay-offs after it lost €103 million in the first three months of 2021. This is on top of a €361 million loss in 2020.
As the airline seeks to rebuild its financial health, it announced a review of ground handling requirements in both Shannon and Cork airports, the continuation of reduced working hours and associated pay reductions and lay-offs.
A statement from Aer Lingus confirmed it will emerge smaller from the pandemic and there will be a requirement for redundancies.
Discussions have begun with unions representing Aer Lingus employees.
Fórsa said this afternoon's announcements are devastating for employees based in Shannon and Cork and called on the airline to prioritise redeployment over redundancy.
Ashley Connolly, head of Fórsa's service and enterprise division called for urgent Government action including a bespoke aviation income support scheme.
Ms Connolly said today’s news might have been avoided if the Government had moved faster to implement supports for the aviation sector and give a clear roadmap on when and how international air travel would resume.
Siptu said the workers involved have been on significantly reduced earnings throughout the pandemic with today's announcement a further blow to them.
“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,” said Neil McGowan, Siptu sector organiser.
Mr McGowan said the uncertainty around current wage supports and PUP beyond June is adding to workers' concerns.
Meanwhile, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has expressed disappointment at the announcement by Aer Lingus today that they plan the permanent closure of their cabin crew base in Shannon.
They noted that the loss of jobs and the added impact on the surrounding area is a severe blow for what has already been a very difficult year for those working in the travel industry, and is indicative of the damage caused by Covid-19 on the Irish travel sector.
Pat Dawson, chief executive of the ITAA said: “We were disappointed to hear of the permanent closure of Aer Lingus’s cabin crew base in Shannon Airport and the loss of Aer Lingus jobs in the area, as this is a further blow to our industry during these strange and difficult times. Local tourism will suffer as a result, as well as the negative implications for inbound and outbound travel from Shannon.”
“This closure has been cards since the arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland and highlights the difficulties the travel industry has been experiencing over the last year, demonstrating the need for Government support for the Irish travel industry in order to retain jobs and repair some of the damage caused by the pandemic.”
The Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan and Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton also said they remain acutely aware of the devastating impact that Covid-19 restrictions are having on the aviation sector, both nationally and across the globe.
They said they committed to ensuring that the aviation industry is in a position to rebound quickly when the public health situation allows, and that Government supports continue to be utilised to aid companies and their staff throughout this crisis.
Engagements to this effect are ongoing, with Ministers recently having met with the chief executive of Aer Lingus and other key aviation stakeholders to discuss plans for re-opening the sector when the public health situation allows. The Ministers will meet again with the CEO of Aer Lingus tomorrow to discuss the company’s latest announcement.
Shannon Chamber chief exectuive, Helen Downes also said: “Pre Covid-19, Shannon Airport was on a growth trajectory. Today’s news is clear evidence that the pandemic is severely impacting every airline and airport.
"Recommendations to redress this impact have been presented to Government by both the Aviation and Tourism Task Forces, by the National Civil Aviation Development Forum (NCADF) and more recently, by Shannon Chamber in conjunction with the Irish Hotels Federation with the support of Limerick, Ennis and Galway Chambers."
Mr Downes said the urgent implementation of these recommendations by Government and a timeline for their roll-out is "critical".