Thousands of jobs in aviation will be lost permanently without Government support, unions warned on Tuesday.
Trade union Fórsa and its affiliate, the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa), which represent more than 5,000 workers throughout the industry, said the Government had no plan to ensure its survival after Covid-19.
Senior Fórsa official Ashley Connolly warned that thousands of jobs could be lost permanently unless the Government supported aviation through a second summer of inactivity caused by pandemic restrictions.
Ialpa president Capt Evan Cullen predicted that a second summer of inactivity would be fatal to airlines that have already exhausted their cash.
"Every aircraft that leaves Ireland will represent lost jobs, lost connectivity, lost gross domestic product," he said.
Capt Cullen added that allowing airlines to go out of business would have a devastating impact on the Republic’s economy.
He pointed out that airlines would cut their losses and move to other countries that have supported the industry.
Addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks, Fórsa called for industry-specific wage supports, easier access to mortgage payment breaks and a plan to ensure aviation's survival.
Ms Connolly predicted that the lack of a "joined-up" approach to underpin jobs and preserve the industry meant the Republic risked being left behind when the rest of the world moves on from Covid-19.
“Eleven months of pay cuts, layoffs, redundancies and job insecurity – and continued uncertainty about the future – have put aviation workers and their families under massive strain. For many the mortgage and other debt incurred during this period will be a burden for years,” she said.
Workers in Irish airlines, including Aer Lingus, CityJet, Ryanair and Stobart Air, and in Dublin and Shannon airports, had endured redundancies, layoffs, reduced working hours and pay cuts, the union said.
Fórsa also pointed out that Irish and European authorities acknowledged that Dublin airport was one of the worst hit in the EU as a consequence of Government travel restrictions.
“Meanwhile traffic at Cork airport is down 75 per cent and Shannon faces permanent decline, with irreversible economic consequences for the mid-west region,” the union said.
Ms Connolly said there was a risk that the current Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme lacked flexibility to secure jobs, vital to the industry’s post-Covid recovery.
"Fórsa is proposing an aviation income support scheme similar to that in place in Germany, which enables employers to reduce hours rather than laying staff off, with government income support for the time employees can't work," she said.