‘It’s not as simple as just getting another job’: Stobart workers fear for career prospects

Stobart workers say it could be a year or more before they have any hope of regaining employment

Former Stobart Air pilots in the front row of members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association during a protest at the Department of Health. Photograph: Alan Betson

Former Stobart Air pilots in the front row of members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association during a protest at the Department of Health. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Stobart Air workers fear for their long-term employment prospects following the loss of their jobs at the weekend.

Pilots, crew and other staff heard that the airline, which flew regional routes for Aer Lingus, was closing in the early hours of Saturday morning.

A group who took part in the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association demonstration at the Department of Health on Wednesday said it could be a year or more before they have any hope of regaining employment.

“I don’t know of any airline that is looking for pilots at the moment,” said one, pointing out that extra restrictions imposed on non-vaccinated travellers from Britain this week had added to the industry’s woes.

“It’s like a bereavement,” said another, who recalled that she received the email telling her of the closure at 12.20am on Saturday, while she slept in preparation for an early morning flight.

She explained that she and her colleagues had spent hundreds of thousands on training and preparing to work as pilots.

“People say just get another job, but it’s not as simple as that, this is like a vocation to us,” she said.

Stobart ceased trading at the weekend with the loss of 480 jobs after its owner, British group Esken, said it was forced to withdraw financial support from the Irish carrier.

The High Court appointed Deloitte Ireland partners Ken Fennell and Mark Degnan as provisional liquidators to the airline on Monday.

The airline leased its 13 aircraft, but has a number of assets, including some airport slots. Stobart also held aircraft engine spares and other stock.

Stobart Air traded profitably up to the end of 2019 but plummeting ticket sales in the face of Covid-19 travel restrictions cost it €19 million in lost revenues last year.