Aer Lingus spends €5m on extra craft and crew for peak season
Company hires UK charter specialist Titan
Aer Lingus has hired in at least one craft and crew from UK charter specialist Titan Airways to cover some of its services from Dublin Airport. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Aer Lingus is spending up to €5 million on hiring in extra aircraft and crew after underestimating its requirements for the peak travel season.
The airline has hired in at least one craft and crew from UK charter specialist Titan Airways to cover some of its services from Dublin Airportfor a period said to be 50 days.
Estimates of the extra cost involved run to €5 million, although it is understood the company has told staff the figure is closer to €2.5 million, which implies that the UK company is charging €50,000 a day.
Industry regulations mean an airline has to hire in craft complete with their own pilots and crew – rather than individuals – when they need extra staff. Titan Airways regularly provides this service for a number of European airlines, including Aer Lingus.
Sources yesterday suggested the company had underestimated its crewing requirements for the summer period, traditionally the busiest time of the year in the travel industry.
A spokeswoman confirmed the airline has hired in craft and crew, but would not say which company is providing the service or how much Aer Lingus is paying for it.
“Due to a number of operational requirements we have had to hire in aircraft over the peak summer season, beyond what would normally be expected during peak season, to fulfil the busy schedule,” she said.
“We do not discuss the commercial details of these arrangements. We always focus on the requirements of our customers and we aim to minimise any disruption caused by unexpected events.”
The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) criticised the company yesterday, saying that with proper planning Aer Lingus could have provided extra opportunities for young Irish people to work over the summer.
Passenger numbers up
Aer Lingus said last month that passenger numbers were up by 1.3 per cent in the first half of the year to 4.57 million, although there was some weakness in demand from Britain in the first quarter that continued into the second.
For the second half of the year, which includes much of the summer season, the airline said bookings were ahead of the same period in 2012 and were particularly strong in long haul.
However, it pointed out that July’s heatwave led to less demand in some markets during the month as holiday-makers opted to stay at home rather than travel abroad.
Separately, a question mark still hangs over Aer Lingus’s regional flights in Ireland and Britain over four days next week because of a threat of strike at Aer Arann, which provides the services under a franchise agreement.
Aer Arann’s pilots served notice on the company on Monday following the failure of efforts to resolve a dispute over pay. They maintain that the company has backtracked on an agreement to review salaries this year. Aer Arann has said it will do this only when the business returns to profitability.
If the action goes ahead it will lead to cancellation of flights on August 20th, 21st, 24th and 25th. There was no indication yesterday from either side that the situation had changed.