Business Irish

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Aer Lingus chief says staff stealing 'many millions of euro' from customers and colleagues

Aer Lingus Chief Operational Officer Mike Rutter says some staff have stolen 'millions' from customers
Photo: Collins
Aer Lingus Chief Operational Officer Mike Rutter says some staff have stolen 'millions' from customers Photo: Collins
Millions of euro worth of goods have been stolen from Aer Lingus passengers, members of staff and in company stock, including duty free, the airline’s chief operating officer has said. Stock photo

Fearghal O'Connor

Millions of euro worth of goods have been stolen from Aer Lingus passengers, members of staff and in company stock, including duty free, the airline's chief operating officer has said.

As thousands of passengers make plans to fly home for Christmas, the airline is rolling out CCTV cameras across Dublin Airport and engaging private security to carry out random patrols of staff areas, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Gardai, as well as both local police and federal law enforcement authorities in the US, have been called in to investigate a number of serious issues in recent months as losses from theft continue.

The cameras are to be installed throughout Terminal 2 because of the "many millions of euro" lost by the airline due to missing stock, said Aer Lingus chief operating office Mike Rutter in a memorandum to staff in the last fortnight.

Mr Rutter blamed "a small percentage" of staff. However, staff at Aer Lingus are angered at the introduction of closed circuit television in their work areas.

Guest [passenger] property and company stock losses "remain at levels significantly above the industry norms despite investment in new technologies and inventory management processes", said Mr Rutter, adding that a security company is to begin monitoring and recording staff "boarding and exiting our fleet using staff numbers".

The security company will also monitor carts - used on aircraft to store duty free and other items - as well as mounting random patrols across arriving aircraft, break rooms, ready rooms and lost property drop points, according to the memo.

Mr Rutter said he recognised that "the vast majority of staff come to work every day and perform their duties in line with our values".

But, he wrote, "as a leadership team we have been concerned for some time" about a small percentage of employees that continue "to behave below that standard and incidents of unacceptable behaviour continue to be reported across the business".

He continued: "Theft of guest property, damage to company property and interference with colleagues' property has unfortunately continued."

He said that over the last year and "more intensively in recent weeks", Aer Lingus had briefed staff representatives on steps "to tackle these behaviours".

An Aer Lingus spokeswoman said the airline has fully engaged with union representatives on issues including the roll-out of CCTV cameras and random patrols.

But in a letter to Aer Lingus, also seen by this newspaper, the Siptu trade union hit out at "the installation of what our members deem to be an excessive number of CCTV cameras in the area they work in as well as the company decision to implement security patrols in break areas and locker rooms which affect our members' down-time when on break".

The row over security comes amid a wider battle between Aer Lingus and Siptu over proposed productivity changes for loading staff at Dublin Airport.

Management last week took the unprecedented move to bypass trade union representatives and write directly to staff.

In that letter, the airline outlined the reasons for the productivity agreement, claiming that ground handling costs are some 50pc higher than others in the market.

The letter also claimed that trade union representatives were turning their backs on a draft agreement in which "the net outcome for you would be more money and better rosters, not a bad deal".

Sunday Independent

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