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  • Aer Lingus lifts its nose, advertises for interns

    August 31, 2011 @ 1:53 pm | by Laura Slattery

    With no volcano-related airspace closures to contend with, Aer Lingus has enjoyed a strong second quarter to the year. Passenger numbers are up 8.3 per cent compared to the same period last year, the amount of cash earned per passenger increased 6.6 per cent to €113.13 and revenue has climbed 14 per cent to €351 million.

    These are reassuring numbers for the airline, which has, of yet, failed to invent time travel, though it is currently advertising for more assistants than Doctor Who.

    In common with a number of major employers, Aer Lingus has alighted upon a new way to get work done on the cheap: the JobBridge internship scheme. Its website is currently advertising 19 internships, with titles including IT project assistant; revenue evaluation assistant; and most eye-catchingly of all, air safety assistant.

    Some 14 of the 19 advertised positions are for nine months, the other five for six months. And 12 of them specify a requirement for degree-level qualifications in fields such as accountancy, IT and business.

    To recap the terms of the JobBridge scheme again, the Government, via taxpayers, will throw in €50 per week pocket money on top of dole entitlements, and, er, that’s it. Crucially, the interns are not supposed to be doing work that the company would otherwise have to hire someone to perform at a proper wage – so, on that basis, I guess that air safety assistant position isn’t really necessary at all.

    According to interim accounts published this morning, Aer Lingus’s losses in the first half of 2011 were higher than they were in 2010, with the airline citing the impact of industrial disputes. But this is still a company happy to declare that it is “positive” about its trading prospects for the rest of the year, as well as talk up, for the benefit of shareholders, its success in whittling down operating costs. Staff costs, which represent a fifth of its operating costs, fell 6 per cent in the first half, as the airline cut wages and headcount.

    One can only assume – given how optimistic chief executive Christoph Mueller is about the outlook for the airline – that he will at least consider adding this team of interns to the payroll at the end of the six- or nine month-period of paying them nothing.

    This is not the same company that during the boom would hire cabin crew for nine months, terminate their contracts en masse, and then prevent them from applying for cabin crew positions advertised soon after they were let go. Is it?

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