Unions say Aer Lingus bid will see job losses

One in four Aer Lingus workers could lose their jobs if the airline is taken over by IAG, unions have claimed.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, Siptu, and Impact issued the warning during a three-hour Oireachtas transport committee meeting yesterday, saying previous airline takeovers by the “predator” bidder show the job cuts would be on the cards if any deal is agreed.

In recent days, the Aer Lingus board has recommended to shareholders that they accept IAG’s €1.3bn offer for the Irish institution.

However, while the €2.55 per share deal would bring in €340m for the taxpayer as the State has a 25.11% stake and is up from two previous bids of €2.30 and €2.40 per share, the unions insisted it was a bad deal that would spell only trouble for Ireland.

“This takeover is not good for our members, their families or people involved in aviation,” said pilot union president Evan Cullen.

“It is very naive for anyone to think if this is successful, there won’t be job cuts. That’s how it works.”

Citing figures collated by outside experts based on the 4,500 job losses at Iberia when it was taken over by IAG, Impact official Matt Staunton said Aer Lingus could lose 1,200 of its 4,000 Irish jobs as part of any deal — including 100 each at Cork and Shannon airports.

He said a sale would move all the power “from Dublin to London”, damage Ireland’s hard-won routes to North America just as we were recovering from the recession, and that IAG needed Aer Lingus more than the other way around.

Insisting the Irish airline was profitable, had €973m in gross cash in September 2014, had seen passenger numbers reach 11.1m, and was “not a deadbeat” company, he claimed IAG in comparison may need to re-sell or remortgage Aer Lingus assets to fully pay for the deal.

Unions also repeated claims that a number of high-ranking Aer Lingus managers are set to make a combined €30m as part of the IAG deal, due to long-term share investment plans.

The Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley asked if the only reason the Government would even consider the deal was to have “the cash windfall to fight the next election”, although unions noted Fianna Fáil partially privatised Aer Lingus before the last election.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny separately told reporters the “clock is not ticking” on any deal decision. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton appeared equally cool on the prospect of a sale, saying “it will be national issues that will dominate this issue, it is not going to be about share price”.

Labour TDs also outlined their discomfort with the IAG bid during ameeting with Transport Minister Pascal Donohue.

READ MORE: Aer Lingus sale puts economies of Cork, Limerick and Shannon at risk

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