Stobart Air workers say they have never seen details of share ownership scheme
Company says workers were told of trust deal when the airline’s ownership was first restructured in February 2019
Stobart Air operates regional flights for Aer Lingus. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Stobart Air workers say they have never seen details of the share ownership scheme through which they are now supposed to control 60 per cent of the Irish carrier.
UK aviation and energy business Stobart Group this week said it would pay up to £8.55 million (€9.8m) for a stake in the carrier that would give it 40 per cent of the voting shares but a 78.25 per cent “economic interest” in the business.
Workers’ groups, including the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, say they have not seen details of the trust which holds shares that control the other 60 per cent of the votes in the airline, and say that they do not know who the trustees are.
Staff were given a majority stake in Stobart Air last year through the employee benefit trust.
The move was designed to ensure that the the carrier’s ownership complied with EU rules which bar any entity based outside the trade bloc from controlling EU-registered airlines.
Stobart Air’s other shareholders were based in the UK, which left the union in January.
Workers say they never agreed to the trust’s establishment in the first place, do not know for certain who the trustees are, and have not seen the deed which sets out the trust’s terms.
It is understood that they have raised this with Stobart Group and with the State’s Commission for Aviation Regulation, which this week confirmed that the airline’s new ownership structure satisfied its licensing terms.
However, Stobart Air managing director Andy Jolly, wrote to staff on Tuesday pointing out that workers were told of the trust deal when the airline’s ownership was first restructured in February 2019, and again in July last year and February this year.
Mr Jolly’s letter confirmed that the trust was created to satisfy airline ownership rules. Stobart Group has pointed out that other airlines have also used this structure.