*Photograph: Air Review
Aer Lingus have been criticised for the “abysmal” manner in which it treated its workers at Shannon Airport.
Following the decision of Aer Lingus to shut its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport, 81 cabin crew are to be offered enhanced severance or a transfer to Dublin Airport while its 45 ground staff remain laid off.
Speaking at a special meeting of Clare County Council which was attended by the county’s seven Oireachtas members, the Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) criticised the move of Aer Lingus to inform its employees via Zoom.
Further annoyance with the method of communication was voiced by Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) who labelled it as “horrible” and “abysmal”. He added, “It is unbelievable that a company in receipt of so much public support over last 12 months would treat workers and our citizen members this way”. Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) was of the same view, “the way the announcement was made was a disgrace to workers”.
In February, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund provided a €150m three-year loan to Aer Lingus, this was referenced by Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) who questioned why this support “wasn’t tied to some kind of guarantee for the connectivity for the west of Ireland”.
Motives of the timing of the announcement were flagged by Cllr John Crowe (FG). “Aer Lingus are using this as a tool to try extract more money from Government. We have paid the wages of their staff since virus came out, this is another tool, as they have done with Shannon down through the years, they have never put their shoulder to the wheel with Shannon”. Having a base at Shannon has always been “an issue” for Aer Lingus, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) maintained.
“It is not unrealistic to draw a clear straight line with the decision to sell off Aer Lingus and their decision to close the base in Shannon,” Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) commented and said the airline doesn’t believe in the Government’s commitment to regional development.
Deputy Joe Carey (FG) told the meeting of his view that Aer Lingus used the cloud of COVID-19 “to take out these people who have given such loyal service”. He felt the treatment of employees, some of whom had over 30 years service was “shocking”.
Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) was concerned with how silent Aer Lingus had been on whether they will return to Shannon with flights, “my expectation that they will return with flights from US and Heathrow”.
Employees feel “betrayed and let down”, Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) advised. He stated that Aer Lingus was making “colossal” losses of €103m per day but insisted they cannot keep coming for State support unless a quid pro quo arrangement is in place.