Aer Lingus apologises to staff over ‘stealing’ claim

Airline donates €25,000 to charity and says sorry for ‘hurt and upset’

The apology came on foot of a meeting between unions and senior management on Thursday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The apology came on foot of a meeting between unions and senior management on Thursday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

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Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh has apologised to workers for a claim that some employees were stealing from passengers, according to trade union Fórsa’s Bernard Harbour.

A report published in the Sunday Independent quoted from an internal company memo from Aer Lingus’s chief operating officer, Mike Rutter, stating that “many millions of euro” had been lost by the airline due to missing stock, and blaming a “small percentage” of staff.

However, Mr Harbour told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 that Mr Kavanagh had apologised for the “hurt and upset” caused by the comments, and he confirmed that a donation had been made to charity.

“That’s a good development. I think that this has been an unfortunate problem which has now been dealt with effectively, and I think it’s probably in everyone’s interests now to move on and get on with the good work that the airline does,” Mr Harbour said.

“I don’t think there is a widespread issue around this in the airline or elsewhere. Like in many other employment, most staff are dedicated, honest and committed to the success of the organisation.

“So in fairness, that’s been acknowledged by the chief executive. He acknowledged the services and hard work and dedication of staff and the airline has now made an apology. It’s made a donation also to Focus Ireland and Pieta House.”

A total of €25,000 will be split between the two organisations.

“I think really now the management have shown that they’ve dealt with this this week quite effectively and quite quickly, and I think it’s time to move on now,” Mr Harbour said.

Angry staff

The apology came on foot of a meeting between unions and senior management on Thursday, which Fórsa and other Aer Lingus staff representatives had called for after they were contacted by many angry employees following publication of the article.

Aer Lingus issued a statement on Friday confirming that Mr Kavanagh and senior executives had sincerely apologised and expressed regret for the hurt and upset the article caused. The chief executive confirmed that he was not the source for the story.

Another Fórsa official, Ashley Connolly, said Mr Kavanagh had today acknowledged the “excellent service and continued hard work and dedication” of cabin crew and other airline staff.

“We welcome and accept management’s apology on behalf of the Aer Lingus staff we represent, and we welcome the company’s decision to donate €25,000 to Focus Ireland and Pieta House – organisations whose work Fórsa respects and supports – on behalf of staff,” she said.

Siptu transport division organiser Greg Ennis said: “While what was said cannot be unsaid, the unprecedented apology issued by Aer Lingus went some way towards repairing the anguish and hurt experienced by staff at the airline.”

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