Aer Lingus temporarily lay off 198 Cork workers, permanently shut Shannon base

Almost 130 jobs are on the line as Aer Lingus have announced the permanent closure of its Shannon cabin crew base
Aer Lingus temporarily lay off 198 Cork workers, permanently shut Shannon base

Aer Lingus cabin crew and other staff based in Cork have been told they will be laid off without pay for three months. Picture: Andy Gibson

Airport staff have been dealt a further blow after Aer Lingus announced on Tuesday that it would permanently close its Shannon cabin crew base and lay off Cork crew for three months.

The 81 cabin crew in the Shannon base will have the options of enhanced severance terms or where feasible, base transfer to Dublin will be provided.

The 45 Shannon-based ground crew will continue to be laid off.

Between September 12 and November 22, 198 Cork-based staff are to be temporarily laid off without pay - 60 ground staff and 138 cabin crew.

Cork Airport will be closed between these dates to facilitate a complete upgrade of its main runway.

The company has notified the Government that all of its Shannon-based crew are "in scope for redundancy" and it is seeking to reduce the Cork headcount by ten.

Aer Lingus has warned of possible further lay-offs after it lost €103m in the first three months of 2021. This is on top of the €361m loss in 2020.

As the airline seeks to rebuild its financial health, it announced the a review of ground handling requirements in both Shannon and Cork airports, the continuation of reduced working hours and associated pay reductions and lay-offs.

A statement from Aer Lingus confirmed it will emerge smaller from the pandemic and there will be a requirement for redundancies.

Discussions have begun with unions representing Aer Lingus employees.

Fórsa said this afternoon's announcements are devastating for employees based in Shannon and Cork and called on the airline to prioritise redeployment over redundancy.

Ashley Connolly, head of Fórsa's Service and Enterprise Division called for urgent Government action including a bespoke aviation income support scheme.

Ms Connolly said today’s news might have been avoided if the Government had moved faster to implement supports for the aviation sector and give a clear roadmap on when and how international air travel would resume.

SIPTU said the workers involved have been on significantly reduced earnings throughout the pandemic with today's announcement a further blow to them.

"This announcement by Aer Lingus further highlights the fact that the aviation industry will be one of the last sectors of our economy to recover," said Neil McGowan, SIPTU Sector Organiser.

"This makes the case for additional supports for aviation workers all the more urgent."

Mr McGowan said the uncertainty around current wage supports and PUP beyond June is adding to workers' concerns.

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