The Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus has laid out plans to cut 11% of its entire 4,500 workforce due to the “catastrophic” effect that the Coronavirus outbreak has had on the airline and the aviation industry as a whole.
An Aer Lingus Airbus A320. Photo by Ervin Eslami | AeroNewsX
By way of a video message, the staff at the airline have been informed about the 500 redundancies by the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Donal Moriarty, who has also specified the areas that will be affected by the decision: around 120 support area jobs, 100 ground crew, 50 maintenance staff and the remaining 230 consisting of pilots and cabin crew.
Additionally, Mr Moriarty confirmed other stop-gap measures including pay reductions that had previously been communicated. In this matter, the Head of Inflight Services Mary Montgomery confirmed on Friday 19th that from June 21st, pay for cabin crew based in Dublin and Cork would fall by 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels, whereas those based in Shannon would be temporarily laid-off until “at least” the end of August.
According to Ms Montgomery, these measures are “reasonable and necessary” if the airline wants to meet the conditions to operate efficiently and competitively once air-travel demand is reinstated. However, she declined to state when the salaries would be reinstated in full.
The IAG-owned airline has said in a statement that it has informed the Irish Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection regarding the redundancies and added that “Aer Lingus has informed (the Minister) that headcount reductions of up to 500 employees across the business are anticipated.”
Aer Lingus' Airbus A330-300. Photo by Devin Ruhotina | AeroNewsX
Parallelly, the airline used the statement to blame the government “for failing to take steps to protect the aviation industry,” in comparison to what other European states have done following the recommendations of the European Commission to lift border controls within the Schengen area as of June 15. The airline noted that “the 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving into Ireland and the official advice to avoid non-essential travel have exacerbated the situation in the Republic.” In fact, two weeks ago, Mr Moriarty already urged the government to ditch the required quarantine in order to allow tourism boost the economy.
Consequently, “Aer Lingus will now commence the required consultation process with employee representative organisations,” namely the trade union Forsa – which represents cabin crew, pilots and other staff – which has already stated that “it would enter discussions with the objective of minimising the number of job losses and protecting the incomes of the staff.”
Other issues were also addressed in the video message, including an emphasis by Mr. Moriarty on the unprecedented scale of the crisis citing IATA’s forecast on the industry of a US$84bn loss this year alone (comparatively, during the 2008 financial crisis US$31bn was lost), while noting that this past week, the airline had operated 8 passenger aircraft compared to 57 in the same week last year.
An Aer Lingus Airbus A321neo. Photo by Max Sutton | AeroNewsX
The news comes in a period in which staff redundancies have become a norm within the industry. More specifically, the Anglo-Spanish International Consolidated Airlines Group has previously expressed its intention to lay-off 12,000 staff within the British carrier, while the Spanish counterparts have been able to secure a total of US$1.1bn in loans from the state in order to keep Iberia and Vueling afloat. On the contrary, the Austrian unit Level Europe filed for insolvency on June 18th.