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Quarantine rule blamed as 500 jobs face axe at Aer Lingus


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Aer Lingus blamed the 14-day quarantine rule for worsening the "catastrophic" Covid-19 crisis for the aviation industry yesterday, as it announced 500 job losses.

Staff were told redundancies will affect workers across the IAG-owned business, including in-flight. This includes inflight services, ground operations, maintenance, engineering and head office.

The airline has informed Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty that the job losses are anticipated among the workforce of 4,500 staff.

Aer Lingus said in a statement yesterday that the Covid-19 crisis is having a catastrophic effect on the industry.

The airline said it is operating less than 5pc of its normal schedule and has no certainty regarding the restoration of services or future demand for travel once services resume.

"The situation is exacerbated in Ireland by the 14-day quarantine requirement for arriving passengers and travel advisories which advise against all non-essential travel," the statement said.

"Ireland has failed to take steps that other European member states have taken - they have progressively restored transport services and connectivity in response to a European Commission invitation to do so."

Aer Lingus added that it had to reduce the size of the airline in response to the crisis.

"Aer Lingus has informed the minister that headcount reductions of up to 500 employees across the business are anticipated," it said.

The airline is beginning consultations with unions.

Fórsa said it would engage with management regarding the proposed redundancies.

The union, which represents cabin crew, pilots and some management staff, said it aims to minimise the number of job losses and income cuts.

The airline has been in a standoff with unions since it cut pay by 50pc during the crisis.

A recovery plan for ground operations, maintenance and cabin crew had been on the table that would have left pay at current levels if there were work practice reforms.

However, a deadline for accepting the proposals did not give unions enough time to ballot their members.

As a result, management withdrew the measures.

Unions complained that pilots were being given enough time to ballot on separate proposals.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson was unable to comment on the terms of the redundancy payments last night.

"Those details are to be discussed with employee representatives," he said.

The Labour TD for Fingal, Duncan Smith, said the job cuts were a hammer blow for staff and their families and showed a total disregard for workers' rights.

He said Aer Lingus's conduct has been "absolutely disgraceful" and accused the company of using the Covid-19 pandemic to pursue a long-term cost-cutting agenda.

"Aer Lingus remains one of the most cash-rich companies in the aviation industry and the parent company IAG is currently seeking to purchase airlines and expand worldwide," he said.

"This clearly shows a disregard for workers and their rights in lieu of the potential to maximise their turnover."

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell said the job losses are deeply saddening and urged all sides to engage in good faith.

"The industrial relations machinery of the State stands ready to assist all parties in an effort to reach a suitable agreement," he said.

Irish Independent