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Aer Lingus is seeking 100 job cuts

Aer Lingus hasn't ruled out making compulsory lay-offs if it can't find enough takers for a voluntary redundancy plan unveiled yesterday.

The airline said it was seeking 100 redundancies by the end of the year, but a spokesman said he couldn't comment on what course the company might take in the "hypothetical" scenario of the target not being achieved.

The jobs cut was announced as Aer Lingus said its first-quarter operating loss widened by €9.4m to €45.5m as it incurred higher fuel and airport costs as well as charges related to starting a contract with Virgin Atlantic. It traditionally makes a loss in the first quarter.

"First-quarter performance highlights the need to continue to review our cost base to protect profitability for the rest of 2013 and beyond," said chief executive Christoph Mueller.

Shares in the airline fell over 3pc at one point as Aer Lingus said operating profit this year would be in line with the €69.1m it made in 2012.

But that is well below the €80.3m expected by Davy Stockbrokers and the €77.7m pencilled in by Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Estimate

Analyst Donal O'Neill at Goodbody said he was sticking to the €77.7m full-year operating profit target he has on the airline despite the carrier's own €69.1m estimate.

He told the Irish Independent that he believes the Aer Lingus long-haul segment will prove to be extremely strong this summer and cited increased cash reserves as an indication of solid forward-bookings to and from the United States.

He also said most analysts are probably forecasting a fuel cost of about $1,000 per tonne, but that Aer Lingus will probably benefit from lower pricing.

Aer Lingus also looks set to relaunch of its Dublin-San Francisco service next year, as well as a new service to Toronto after confirming it's leasing three additional long-haul aircraft from 2014.

A spokesman declined to say what new routes might be serviced.

Irish Independent