AER Lingus is inflicting "wanton destruction" on the lives of 87 of its workers as the airline closes its cabin crew base at Shannon, trade union Impact has claimed.
The airline confirmed yesterday that from March next year, it would no longer base cabin crew at Shannon.
The decision stems from a labour dispute over staffing arrangements for new Aer Lingus transatlantic services that are set to begin next year and will be using a smaller Boeing 757 aircraft.
The carrier is doubling its US-bound frequency from Shannon, as well as inaugurating new services from Dublin to San Francisco and Toronto.
Aer Lingus is leasing three Boeing aircraft from Air Contractors, a unit of Dublin-based firm ASL Aviation, and intended to use its own cabin crew on the aircraft.
Aer Lingus pilots have agreed to operate the aircraft.
The airline wanted to operate the aircraft with four cabin crew and claimed unions wanted five, even though the 757s are relatively small.
But Impact denied that was the case and said management had attempted to "bully its own staff into submission with an ultimatum, and then slammed the door on discussions when it announced it would outsource crew".
"Management did this despite the fact that cabin crew representatives made it very clear they were willing to discuss the matter further and had not, contrary to claims by management, refused to crew the flights with a complement of four crew members," said Impact official Michael Landers.
Aer Lingus told the union and staff in September that it intended to use outsourced crews as a result of the inability to resolve the dispute.
That saw 30 Aer Lingus cabin crew trainees being told that their training had been cancelled with immediate effect.
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller told staff yesterday that there would be no changes to the airline's schedules and expansion plans at Shannon – but that "regrettably", the planned job creation would not be happening within the carrier.
"This is a situation that we never contemplated being in," he said.
A 30-day consultation with affected staff has begun.
They are likely to be offered redeployment to Dublin or Cork, voluntary redundancy – and could even be compulsorily let go.