Aer Lingus staff in Cork Airport no longer face temporary layoff

Wage scheme assurances given by Government for duration of runway closure

Aer Lingus had planned to lay off 98 cabin crew and 60 ground staff for 10 weeks from September to late November while Cork Airport upgraded its runway.  Photograph: Tom Honan

Aer Lingus had planned to lay off 98 cabin crew and 60 ground staff for 10 weeks from September to late November while Cork Airport upgraded its runway. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

Almost 160 Aer Lingus workers in Cork no longer face temporary layoff in the autumn after the airline said it would keep them on the payroll.

Aer Lingus planned to lay off 98 cabin crew and 60 ground staff for 10 weeks from September to late November while Cork Airport upgraded its runway.

However, it emerged on Friday that the company has decided not to lay off the staff temporarily following assurances from the Government that the State would continue paying the employee wage subsidy scheme (EWSS).

The airline has also signalled internally that there may be work for Shannon ground crew to handle a potential Heathrow service from the midwest airport while the Cork runway is closed.

Aer Lingus is closing its Shannon cabin crew base, in a move that will affect at least 81 workers, although it has pledged to maintain services to the airport.

Cork crews

The carrier confirmed in a statement that, following assurances from the Government that it would continue the wage scheme to the end of this year, it has decided not to lay off workers in Cork Airport during the runway closure.

Cork crews would not have qualified for the pandemic unemployment payment while they were temporarily laid off.

An email from Aer Lingus to staff states that in light of this and the Government’s assurance that the EWSS would continue, the airline decided to keep staff on with no work.

They will receive 50 per cent of their pay during this period, which Aer Lingus maintains is “consistent with arrangements made with other staff when there is no work available”.

Some Aer Lingus staff who have continued working through tough travel restrictions imposed to halt the spread of Covid-19 have been on 50 per cent pay, the email noted.

Ground-handling review

The airline is also continuing with a review of ground-handling in Cork and Shannon for the longer term. It has not ruled out job losses at the end of this process.

It is pressing ahead with the closure of the Shannon cabin crew base. The airline is offering voluntary severance or redeployment to Dublin or Cork airports to staff affected by this.

The crew’s union, Fórsa, recently criticised Aer Lingus for not appearing at a Labour Court hearing dealing with the issue.

Aer Lingus has warned that it has been losing €1 million a day since the pandemic first grounded flights in March last year. It has also noted that this week’s lifting of travel bans has not resulted in a “surge in bookings”.

Initial signs on Monday indicated that air travel did increase when the ban was lifted.