Aer Lingus to close Shannon cabin crew base
Union says it will fight closure of facility, which employs nearly 90 staff
Aer Lingus said today it considered its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport to be no longer commercially viable. File Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
Aer Lingus is planning to close its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport, which currently employs nearly 90 staff.
The airline said yesterday it considered the base to be no longer commercially viable.
Aer Lingus said it had originally planned to expand the Shannon base to facilitate an increase in its trans-Atlantic services. Initially the airline had wanted to use its own cabin crew to work on leased aircraft which would be operating the new services.
However, it said it had not been able to reach agreement with the trade union Impact on cabin crew staffing levels to apply on the aircraft.
Aer Lingus said it had subsequently instructed ACL, one of the companies involved in providing the aircraft and pilots on a leased basis for the expanded trans-Atlantic operation, to recruit cabin crew personnel to allow it to meet its obligations to customers who had booked on the new services comencing in January.
Aer Lingus will continue to operate a short-haul route to London from Shannon using its own cabin crew.
Aer Lingus told staff that in light of developments it had now reviewed its cabin crew operation in Shannon “and have concluded that it is not a commercially viable option to retain a single short haul crew base” at the airport.
“There will be no reduction to the Shannon schedule or fleet - we will operate the same short haul service and will double our long haul frequency. Regrettably the resultant job creation will not happen within Aer Lingus. There will be no reduction in Aer Lingus cabin crew numbers as the A330 (aircraft) currently in Shannon will operate San Francisco out of Dublin.
“This is a situation that we never contemplated being in. What started out as a great opportunity to protect existing jobs for Aer Lingus crew, to create 40 extra jobs and to provide promotional opportunity has ended up in making the Shannon cabin crew base unviable.”
Aer Lingus said it was now required to enter into a 30- day period of consultation with union representatives under legisaltion to explore the options that may be available for those affected.
“This will include transfer to Cork or Dublin, voluntary severance or unpaid leave for those who secure work with ACL and, if necessary, redundancy. We are committed to working with all cabin crew individually and supporting them in what’s best for them personally. We will be informing the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation of the foregoing.”
Impact condemned the decision to close the base at Shannon and said it would fight the move.
The union described the closure as “an act of wanton destruction upon the livelihoods of workers who are loyal to the company, and a potentially vicious blow to the economy of the Shannon region”.
It said there is “still sufficient time to find a way to resolve outstanding issues and reverse the decision”.
Impact official Michael Landers said the move was entirely unnecessary.
“We have made consistent efforts to have discussions with the company on the appropriate crew levels for this new service. Management has attempted to bully its own staff into submission with an ultimatum, and then slammed the door on discussions when it announced it would outsource crew.
“Management did this despite the fact that cabin crew representatives made it very clear they were willing to discuss the matter further and had not, contrary to claims by management, refused to crew the flights with a complement of four crew members. All we sought was a common sense approach to the task of planning the new service. Blaming the union that represents staff for management’s own actions was disingenuous at best.”