Up to 870 airport staff have applied for a voluntary redundancy programme at Dublin and Cork airports, this newspaper has learned.
The news comes as Daa, which runs both airports, and trade unions attempted to reach agreement on work practice changes.
It also follows confirmation by Aer Lingus that, after the rejection of similar work practice changes in a ballot in recent weeks, it may now seek compulsory redundancies in a bid to slash costs.
There was intense speculation amongst DAA staff - strenuously denied and dismissed as rumour by a Daa spokesman - that a similar rejection of work practice changes in any future ballot could lead to further job losses and even the closure of one of the two airport terminals.
"The sad truth is the outlook is not looking good," said a message from shop stewards to a large group of airport staff. "All members can see the effects of this virus on our industry and it does not seem to be getting better. The reality we are facing is possible hour cuts, possible job losses and the closure of our terminal in the worst case."
The Daa spokesman declined to comment on the number of staff that have sought voluntary severance but added that the company is currently losing €1m per day due to the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation sector. "Given the huge financial difficulties that the company is facing, daa has to significantly reduce its costs across the business. We are working with staff and trade union representatives to agree new ways of working that will help enable the company to facilitate a voluntary severance programme.
"Given the seriousness of the situation, in any areas of the business where agreement cannot be achieved, daa will unfortunately have no choice but to make the required savings by other means. In this case, any measures would be applied equally across those parts of the operation where no agreement was reached."
Similar work practice change deals have already been rejected by staff at Aer Lingus represented by both Siptu and Forsa, leading to an industrial relations crisis at the airline. In a letter sent earlier in the week by Aer Lingus to Siptu it outlined in stark terms the impact of the recent rejection by staff of a ballot on work practice changes. The letter said that the ballot outcome made it clear that "we cannot rely on staff in certain work areas who do not volunteer for redundancy to perform the full range of tasks required going forward".
Sunday Indo Business