Aer Lingus staff braced for further cutbacks

STAFF at Aer Lingus are bracing themselves for the possibility of further cuts after management questioned the company’s future.

Unions claim numerous sacrifices have been made at various stages over the past decade, and said any difficulties have not been communicated to staff in a series of regular meetings.

It emerged yesterday the company had expressed concern over its future in light of the poor state of the Irish economy and rising fuel prices internationally. It is expected to outline some of these concerns in detail at today’s agm.

Staff yesterday reacted with concern and surprise at the news. Workers are already following the terms of the Greenfield Cost Reduction Programme agreed in 2009, which was expected to make savings of €97 million. This resulted in staffing reductions, pay cuts, and changes in conditions.

The airline has now suggested the Greenfield plan may not be enough to secure the company’s future. The agm, in Dublin, is expected to hear that Aer Lingus will generate an operating profit before exceptional items for 2011, but at a significantly lower level than in 2010, with an operating loss before exceptional items for the first three months of the year rising to €53.7m, a figure almost 42% worse than the same period in 2010.

Total revenue was €217.9m, down almost 5%, while operating costs increased by almost 2% at €271.6m. Aer Lingus also took a hit of almost €34m in the last quarter after Revenue disallowed a controversial redundancy scheme.

In an un-audited interim management statement for the first quarter of 2011 Aer Lingus said performance was “negatively affected by the IMPACT cabin crew dispute in January and February, the timing of the Easter holiday period and poor performance of some Irish originating leisure routes” but that early yield indications appear positive for the second and third quarters.

Aer Lingus chief executive, Christoph Mueller, said the airline had a “a challenging start” to the year but had grown average passenger yield by 9.0%.

IMPACT trade union said the company is returning to profitability and in recent months Mr Mueller received a performance-related bonus of €483,000, while other senior executives also received bonuses.

Spokesman Bernard Harbor said: “The union meets the chief executive every month and all that has been discussed in those meetings is how Greenfield is working well and delivering savings.”


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