THERE was a double jobs blow yesterday after it emerged that department store Debenhams is to slash 170 jobs across its Irish branches, while 150 staff at Ryanair face the axe after the airline slashed one-fifth of its flights at Dublin Airport.
A spokesman for Debenhams said it was confident the reductions could be met through voluntary redundancies. The company employs 2,400 workers in its 11 stores. A workers' representative blamed cross-border shopping for the job losses.
The company remained "committed" to its Irish operations.
"It spent €45m in the Republic in the last few years and it wants to open more stores. But before that can happen, it needs to change work practices and right-size the workforce," the spokesman added.
Linda Tanham, assistant general secretary of Mandate, said cross-border shopping was a "major contributor" to the loss of jobs at the department store.
"More and more jobs are being lost in the retail sector as a direct result of the downturn in the economy and in particular, customers going over the border to do their shopping.''
He also warned fares would rise out of Ireland by at least 10pc, with no more free seat sales over the next 12 months.
Ryanair is preparing to file a case against the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in the High Court alleging the semi-state body has breached competition law by abusing its dominant position at Dublin Airport.
The challenge is to be made within a couple of weeks.
The chief executive claimed that as a result of the reduced summer capacity, the number of passengers carried by Ryanair through Dublin would decline by two million between 2010 and 2011; while at Shannon it would carry one million fewer in the same period.
Mr O'Leary said the decline in Ryanair's passenger numbers at Dublin would result in the loss of more than 2,000 jobs at the facility, including the reduction of Ryanair positions at Dublin by 150. But the DAA claimed Ryanair was reducing flights due to the state of its own business environment. The decision was not based on passenger charges at the airport.