CityJet pilots will picket the airline’s headquarters in Dublin tomorrow morning as they protest a plan by the company to close its base there.
The union claims CityJet will use pilots from outside the country to operate contracts it has with Scandinavian carrier SAS.
Trade union Fórsa said this afternoon that the move will effectively result in the offshoring of work that had previously been undertaken by pilots based in Ireland.
The airline plans to axe most of the 57 pilots it has based in Dublin, said Fórsa.
CityJet is currently in examinership. Its headquarters are in Swords, not far from Dublin Airport. It’s owned by Falko.
CityJet, whose executive chairman is Pat Byrne, rejected the offshoring claims last month, saying they were inaccurate.
“Whilst CityJet continues to operate services in Scandinavia, the future requirement will be less than previous years,” it said this afternoon.
“CityJet had 21 aircraft operating in Scandinavia in 2019, it is expected that this will reduce to just 15 aircraft required from March, 2021,” it added. “CityJet has employed crews in Scandinavia since 2015 - and aircraft operating in Copenhagen are staffed by approximately 200 locally-based crews on local labour contracts and Danish taxation structures.”
It said that five aircraft in Scandinavia returned to flying in June, with no definite timeline for the return of additional jets to flying.
“The Copenhagen-based positions on offer to Dublin crews will be as part of this return of aircraft in Scandinavia,” it added.
The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA), which is a branch of Fórsa, has made a number of proposals designed to retain at least some of the Dublin pilot jobs.
They include 50pc pay cuts up to April next year, and the termination of all terms and conditions to facilitate flexibility. It would also see a continuing 15pc pay cut from April next year, as well as an IALPA-designed training plan to move CityJet pilots from one aircraft to another. The pilots argue that that move would be cheaper than redundancy for the airline.
“CityJet intends to exit the examinership process flying 15 aircraft for SAS as part of the business plan, as it did prior to Covid-19,” said Fórsa official Ian McDonnell.
“However, these flights will resume without the Irish-based pilots flying the aircraft. Dublin-based pilots had been doing this work until the examinership process commenced in April,” he added.
It’s believed that about 23 of the Dublin-based CityJet pilots were typically involved in operating the SAS services. CityJet no longer flies under its own brand, but instead sells its services to other airlines.
“We were informed last week that the majority of the 57 pilots will no longer be employed by CityJet,” said Mr McDonnell.
“A small number of them will have the option to relocate outside of Ireland if and when required,” he said. “Otherwise they face redundancy along with their other pilot and cabin crew colleagues, and this is despite some progress where a number of jobs were committed to remain in Dublin last week.”
Following the closure of the Dublin base, CityJet will have a shortage of pilots and will be required to commence hiring pilots immediately, Mr McDonnell claimed.
“We’ve been informed that these new pilot jobs will be located outside the State,” he said.
“CityJet is using this examinership process to reduce its debt with the help of the Irish courts, while at the same time off-shoring Irish jobs,” claimed Mr McDonnell.
“This is why pilots are protesting at the airline’s offices,” he said. “They have done all they can to maintain a base and jobs here, but the company have abandoned them.”
CityJet said that Dublin-based crews previously operated services in to supplement locally-employed crews for a number of CityJet’s customer airlines in Scandinavia, Belgium and France in addition to flights from Dublin.
“With the loss of all contracts except Scandinavia, the requirement for Dublin crews to supplement locally-based crews is reduced,” it said.
The use of Dublin-based crews qualified on the CRJ900 aircraft on a fulltime basis to operate services in Scandinavia “would require flying the crews to Scandinavia each week to work and is neither economic nor feasible on a long term basis”, it added.