Unions will meet Aer Lingus this week to discuss the possible impact on jobs of the airline's ongoing losses from continued Government travel bans.
The carrier's operations lost €103 million in the first quarter of the year, prompting chief executive Lynne Embleton to warn staff that cuts could be needed should the airline lose a second summer to Covid curbs.
Trade unions Fórsa, which represents pilots and crew, and Siptu, which represents ground staff, will meet Aer Lingus management on Friday to discuss its financial results and any possible impact on their members.
A Fórsa spokesman, and Neil McGowan – Siptu aviation sector organiser – both confirmed that their unions were due to meet the airline’s management separately this Friday.
Mr McGowan noted that unions meet Aer Lingus management to discuss its financial results “as a matter of course” under normal circumstances.
“But given the set of results and the commentary from the chief executive, we will be very interested to hear what they have to say,” he added.
Ms Embleton told workers in a video distributed after the results were published on Friday that Aer Lingus had too many resources, so had to adapt to the current situation and prepare to rebuild its finances in the future.
She explained that the the Republic’s Covid-19 curbs, which include controversial hotel quarantines and a ban on non-essential travel, were uniquely restrictive, while the Government had yet to publish any plan for reopening.
“In the immediate term, as a result of the restrictions and the lack of a roadmap, we have got very few bookings for the months ahead, and it’s clear that we’re going to have a smaller schedule and a smaller fleet than previously anticipated,” Ms Embleton said.
She noted that Aer Lingus and other air travel businesses had given the Government a plan setting out the steps needed to restart travel and reopen Irish aviation.
However, Ms Embleton added that there had not been any “meaningful progress in terms of a roadmap for aviation”.
Consequently, she said there was a real risk that Aer Lingus would lose a second summer, the period of the year during which it earned most of its revenues.
The Aer Lingus chief added that she hoped that the Government would make rapid progress on the recommendations made by the industry in its restart plan.
Mr McGowan also warned that the industry was at a critical point. “We have a real concern that companies are going to start deciding that they will cut their workforces on a permanent basis. That will make recovery all the harder,” he stressed.
Unions want the Government to keep supporting the industry’s workers’ pay beyond the likely wind-down point for this aid in June.
“One thing we have been pushing is for there to be a specific extension of the wage subsidy scheme for aviation workers and that that should continue until the end of the year at least,” said Mr McGowan.
“It’s very likely that aviation will be one of the last industry’s to recover, even though the domestic economy will be back to something looking like normal.”