Thursday 30 March 2017

Aer Lingus 'will not waver' on €97m cost-cutting plan

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

AER Lingus boss Christoph Mueller has warned staff that the airline will be "unwavering" in fully implementing a radical €97m cost-reduction programme after cabin crew served notice this week that they plan to take industrial action following unrest caused by new rosters.

Mr Mueller -- who earlier this year warned the then 1,200 cabin crew that he was prepared to fire and rehire them on lesser conditions if they didn't sign up to his rationalisation plan -- told staff in a memo yesterday that the implementation of the scheme remained critical to the viability of the airline.

While cabin crew first rejected the rationalisation plan -- labelled project 'Greenfield'-- back in March, they later overwhelmingly approved the cuts.

"It is neither fair nor equitable that any staff group should seek a veto or to opt out," Mr Mueller said yesterday.

The latest row between cabin crew and management is centred on new rosters that are being introduced, which mean cabin crew must spend 850 hours per year on airborne flights. Trade Union IMPACT maintains the changes being made go beyond what was previously agreed to by cabin crew.

The two sides are expected to enter talks at the Labour Relations Commission next week in an effort to resolve the dispute.



Savings

In his memo, Mr Mueller said that while business at the carrier had picked up in recent months that did not mean that cost-cutting measures could be diluted.

"Some suggest that the improved revenue performance can be used to offset some of the cost savings. This is not possible," he told employees.

He added: "To thrive, Aer Lingus relies on teamwork and we all have a responsibility to our customers, our shareholders, and to each other to seize this opportunity to transform Aer Lingus in a sustainable way."

Mr Mueller said that neither shareholders, nor the airline's customers, were impressed that strike notice had been served just a few weeks into a major process of already-agreed change.

While strike action is due to begin on August 25, IMPACT stressed that it will not interfere with flights, but will involve a work-to-rule.

"The agreements reached came about because all sides were prepared to address the airline's challenges with a new approach," Mr Mueller countered in yesterday's memo.

"These challenges have not receded. A few busy months in the summer do not equate to an easing of the operating environment and a return to pre-recession demand levels. We are only weeks away from the winter season, traditionally the toughest period for any airline. Aer Lingus is no exception and, as we all know, Irish economic conditions remain precarious."

Irish Independent

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