The rapid announcement of a wave of cuts for cabin crew after they overwhelmingly voted to reject a package containing many of the same cuts was “a shot across the bow” of ground staff, according to airport sources.
Cabin crew last week rejected the cost-cutting measures by more than 80pc, but ground staff at the embattled airline continue to ballot on similar proposals.
After the cabin crew vote against the deal, the airline moved quickly to announce a pay freeze until 2025 and work practice changes.
More senior Cabin Service Managers were told by the airline that they would now remain on 60pc of their pay for the foreseeable future instead of a promised move to 80pc of pay.
The airline said it was likely there would be “a requirement to implement lay-offs at this and other cabin crew grades from early 2022”.
Sources said that hundreds of their jobs may have been inadvertently saved – temporarily – by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s signal last week that the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) will continue into 2022.
Without that, they believe that the airline may have moved immediately to lay-off as many as 200 of its 1,300 cabin crew after their rejection of the structural change plan.
If ground crew also reject their version of the change plan there are fears that the airline could seek to introduce more extensive outsourcing to its Dublin groundhandling operation.
Sources said that staff had been further angered by a management claim last week that the no vote by cabin crew showed they had not fully understood the “seriousness of the situation”.
“Cabin crew fully understand the impact of the pandemic,” said a source. “At the height of the pandemic, Aer Lingus reduced salaries to 30pc, most of which was paid by the State.”