Aer Lingus hints at cabin crew layoffs
Chief executive says Impact position on transatlantic service would leave airline with crew ‘surplus’
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller: described dispute as appalling and said Impact’s stance was an own goal. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Aer Lingus has hinted at that it may have to lay off some cabin crew as a result of a row over manning levels for new transatlantic services scheduled for next year.
Trade union Impact intends balloting members at the airline for industrial action over what it says are the company’s plans to outsource cabin crew on newly scheduled daily flights from Shannon to New York and Boston from January.
Aer Lingus is leasing the Boeing 757 craft needed for the flights from another company, Air Contract Services (ACL), whose pilots will fly the aircraft, but had intended using its own cabin crew.
The airline wanted to man each flight with four cabin crew, but Impact demanded that it use five. When they failed to reach agreement, Aer Lingus asked ACL to provide crew as well, prompting the union to announce that it intended balloting members on industrial action.
In a circular to staff yesterday, Aer Lingus chief executive, Christoph Mueller, said that as a result of Impact’s position, it would be left with a “surplus of cabin crew” at Shannon that will need to be addressed, while a letter from senior manager Seán Murphy to Impact official Michael Landers contains the same message.
It is understood that addressing this could involve laying off or redeploying up to half the 90 cabin crew based at Shannon Airport.
The proposed daily services from the airport to New York and Boston are part of Aer Lingus’s planned expansion of its long-haul services announced in July and which it said would create 40 extra jobs.
In his circular to staff, Mr Mueller describes the dispute as truly appalling and says Impact’s stance is an own goal.
He argues that the outcome of the situation is “that we are now unable to create any Aer Lingus jobs”.
The airline told the union that it has no choice but to instruct ACL to use its own staff as Aer Lingus is committed to operating the flights from January and customers have been booking seats since July.
As a result, recruiting cabin crew for the services will have to begin immediately.
In a statement, Impact accused the company of refusing to engage in genuine negotiations about new manning levels on the service, despite what Mr Landers argued were the union’s efforts to do so.
“But it has emerged that they simply want to outsource the service, rather than agree how experienced Shannon-based crew can continue to deliver what is an excellent service,” he said.
The crux of the issue is that the aircraft that will operate the daily Shannon- New York and Boston flights from January are smaller than the current aircraft that is used on seven weekly transatlantic routes from the airport, which requires eight crew.