There was intense speculation amongst Aer Lingus staff this weekend over claims that the airline is poised to launch a new round of deep job cuts unless air travel reopens this summer.
Pilots at the airline have told colleagues that they have been briefed that the airline would be forced to cut about 800 more jobs, or 25pc of the remaining workforce, if quarantine rules and travel bans keep much of the airline’s Irish-based operation effectively grounded in the traditionally high-season months to come.
At least 600 staff have already left the airline over the course of the pandemic and workers continue on 50pc of pay, having seen wages fall as low as 30pc last year.
But trade unions representing cabin crew and ground staff were said to be unaware of the briefings, which were dismissed by some as an attempt to put pressure on the Government to lift restrictions on air travel, according to sources.
And, separately, there was speculation that the airline is eying winter sun holidays in Florida and the Caribbean as a potential lifeline for its Irish operation.
A new three day per week winter flight to Barbados could be launched, which would alternate days with a similar three day a week service that it has already announced from October at its new Manchester hub.
A return to Miami, Orlando and a potential new flight to Cancun from Dublin are also under consideration, it is believed.
But staff at the airline fear that Manchester could benefit from the relocation of even more Aer Lingus aircraft to the UK if the airline cannot begin to fill planes out of Dublin again this summer.
A senior pilot from the airline claimed on social media that he had been on “a very sobering call with our Union, where 0pc pay is coming down the line for all pilots in Aer Lingus for the winter”.
“Up to 25pc of the work force could be laid off and more aircraft moving out of the Republic to the UK if [transport minister] Eamon Ryan does not open up aviation,” wrote the pilot.
Pilots union IALPA did not respond to queries.