Up to 450 airport workers are facing redundancy after union members agreed to a breakthrough €40m cost-cutting plan.
A deal brokered with trouble-shooters at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) will see a pay cut of between 4.25pc and 12pc but the money saved will be held in a special fund.
Siptu officials, who drew up the initiative, said the money will be paid back to workers at the three main airports at a later date if the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) hits targets.
Dermot O'Loughlin, union organiser, said: "We sincerely believe these proposals have the potential to provide sustainable quality jobs.
"In addition, they provide a realistic platform to ensure that staff are favourably positioned for all future challenges."
About 10pc of the workforce, including management, in Dublin, Cork and Shannon are facing redundancy.
Some 300 lay-offs will be voluntary with a further 100-150 among temporary workers whose contracts are not renewed.
The DAA said last July it was €70m behind budget after significant falls in passenger traffic and commercial income.
It has also warned of low passenger figures through to 2011.
Mr O'Loughlin added: "It's not that we will get it back this year or next year but that we will be in a better place the year after."