Speaking to staff via video from the brand new Airbus A330 that was delivered only last week, Aer Lingus' Chief Technical Officer Fergus Wilson announced the airline's decision to opt for the long-term storage programme for its latest aircraft addition, RTÉ Ireland has reported.
An Aer Lingus Airbus A330-300. Photo by Andrew Pries | AeroNewsX
Mr. Wilson also stressed on the existing travel restrictions and 14-day quarantine rules that the government has applied as the main aggravating causes for the low air travel demand, which has ultimately forced the move to store the aircraft. He also outlined the weak financial position of the company, attributed to the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the Republic’s flag carrier.
Additionally, he showed concern over the company’s failing European strategy that was intended to capture more clients in the region, noting that “this summer period now looks bleak” for the airline. He also confirmed some discouraging figures that show its three daily transatlantic services fell from 4,200 passengers per day to only 150 in a one-year-time comparison.
The aircraft type, that mostly serves long-haul routes, will head out towards a drier environment in Ciudad Real, Spain where aircraft rest with ideal conditions that prevent them from corrosion and long-term deterioration. The Airbus A330, which was intended to enter service in the summer peak-season, will now be excluded from commercial service until “the uncertainty surrounding international travel” dissipates. This move will still represent a significant cost for the airline, as it requires “strict maintenance that involve several checks and procedures” before, throughout and after the process.
However, the overall “cash burn” will be considerably reduced following this decision as the cost of maintenance and pricey airport fees would be avoided.
An Aer Lingus Airbus A330. Photo by Chris Phan | AeroNewsX
As a result, the wide-body fleet of the company will be drastically reduced to 5 from the total of 15, which will now serve the only two routes that the airline has scheduled: from Dublin, to New York and Chicago. According to Mr Wilson, no more aircraft have been stored for now in order “to avoid the complexities and cost of putting them into parking or storage.”
Regarding the remaining fleet, Wilson pointed out that 3 out of their 4 A321 LR’s are operational, serving the city of Boston and London Heathrow from its Dublin base, while just over the half (17) of its 30 Airbus A320 fleet is still operational. However, these inoperative aircraft remain mostly in Dublin, Shannon and Cork for storage.
Parallelly, the CTO also seized the opportunity to mention SIPTU (Ireland’s largest trade union) members’ rejection – with a 55% majority – of the Covid-19 Crisis Recovery Programme 2020, which will likely lead the way to further job losses while current workers will continue earning 30% of their normal pay and the rest will remain temporarily furloughed. “The restoration of hours and pay and return to work will not now take place”, the company added.
An Aer Lingus Airbus A321neo. Photo by Anselm Ranta | AeroNewsX
Mr. Wilson lastly urged the Irish Government to implement the recommendations of the Aviation Recovery Task Force Final Report which will enable a much needed recovery for the industry, just like other European rivals are experimenting. While tight cooperation is being pursued between the government and the aviation industry, the review on travel restrictions that is set to take place on July 20 is nonetheless expected to be “more restrictive than the criteria the EU is recommending,” according to Aer Lingus.
Moreover, Aer Lingus is expected to cancel leisure destinations from July 20 – including Spain – allegedly due to low demand, although the company refused to give any comment in this regard.