Aer Lingus has again said it's committed to starting to restore services at Cork and Shannon airports from April, but only if the Government follows through to help ease travel across Europe and the Atlantic over the coming months, amid the continuing Covid-19 crisis for airlines.
Talking to reporters after its parent group IAG detailed total losses of over €1.9bn in the latest quarter, Aer Lingus interim chief executive Donal Moriarty said the airline plans to complete 250 redundancies in the coming months.
Out of Cork, Aer Lingus has already said it was cutting flights to Heathrow to only three-a-week compared with its regular daily service and has ended its Amsterdam service over the winter months.
Out of Shannon, it has ended all flights and now won’t resume its London service from the airport through the winter months.
However, Mr Moriarty said Aer Lingus planned “a robust and strong service out of Cork and Shannon” starting in April for its summer schedule if the Irish Government applies the EU’s so-called traffic light system to facilitate travel between European countries.
Its plans for Dublin, Cork, Shannon, and Knock airports do not foresee a recovery to match 2019 schedules for some time, however.
He also said its recovery plans depended critically on the implementation of “an affordable” passenger testing regime for Covid-19 and on the implementation of an agreed “safe travel corridor” between Ireland and North America.
The airline’s summer 2021 plans were based on its confidence that the conditions would be met, Mr Moriarty said.
He said Aer Lingus currently employs a total of 4,700 full- and part-time staff, the equivalent of 4,100 full-time jobs, after it cut around a large number of jobs on fixed-term and seasonal contracts, at the start of the crisis.
The airline is seeking to complete 250 redundancies through the first quarter next year, with the redundancies spread across the business and are not concentrated in any one base, he said.
Tapping the wage-subsidy aid from the Irish Government under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme was “a welcome contribution” to helping towards the airline’s costs, but the supports accounted for only “a small fraction” of overall costs amid a collapse in its revenues, Mr Moriarty said.
In an update, IAG, which also owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, said the airline’s first-quarter operating loss of €1.3bn ballooned to over €1.9bn when redundancy and restructuring costs were taken into account.
Reflecting the scale of the crisis, IAG had posted an operating profit of over €1.4bn in the same quarter last year.
“The total operating loss was €1.9bn, including exceptional items relating to fuel hedges plus restructuring costs at British Airways and Aer Lingus,” IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said.
IAG said exceptional costs of €275m in the quarter "related to British Airways and Aer Lingus, corresponding to a reduction in employee numbers of approximately 10,000".