Aer Lingus will on Friday give unions more details of planned cuts that some speculate could lead to 900 job losses.
The carrier’s owner, International Consolidated Airlines Group’s businesses lost €535 million in the first three months of the year, compared with a profit of €135 million in the opening quarter of 2019.
Aer Lingus management, led by chief executive Sean Doyle, is expected to give further details of proposed job cuts to representatives of unions Siptu, Fórsa, Connect and Unite in talks on Friday.
Last week it emerged that the Irish airline expected its business to shrink 20 per cent in 2021 following the Covid-19 crisis, so was seeking to cut its workforce in line with this.
The news sparked speculation that Aer Lingus wanted 900 redundancies from its total workforce of 4,500. However, unions said the company did not give a number when it raised the issue.
Workers’ representatives asked management to provide more detail on a conference call scheduled for this Friday, May 9th.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh would not be drawn on the likely number of cuts at the Irish carrier after the group published first-quarter results on Thursday.
Mr Walsh said IAG would leave details to Mr Doyle and his colleagues. He noted that the group estimated that its businesses next year would be 20 per cent smaller than in 2019, while Aer Lingus and IAG’s other airlines had planned to grow in 2020. “So we have not put a figure on it,” Mr Walsh said.
IAG’s biggest carrier, British Airways, last week announced that it was beginning talks with unions on cutting 12,000 jobs.
Mr Walsh explained that the group had to publish this figure as it had to notify the markets that British Airways was beginning a formal process with unions.
Siptu aviation sector organiser Neil McGowan, who represents 1,500 Aer Lingus workers in Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports, said that unions asked the company how many redundancies it wanted and where it would seek cuts.
“We made it clear to them that if people are going at all it has to be on a voluntary basis,” he added.
Fórsa, which represents Aer Lingus pilots and cabin crew, said its priorities were protecting job and lessening the impact on lower-paid workers.
Mr Walsh confirmed that IAG planned a “meaningful return to service” in July as countries began lifting travel bans that have grounded 94 per cent of its passenger fleet.
“However, we do not expect passenger demand to recover to the level of 2019 before 2023 at the earliest,” he said. “ This means group-wide restructuring is essential in order to get through the crisis and preserve an adequate level of liquidity.”
IAG’s revenues fell 13.4 per cent in the first quarter of the year to €4.585 billion from almost €5.3 billion during the same period in 2019.
A once-off charge of €1.325 billion for fuel and foreign exchange hedges in 2020 left the group with a loss for the period. IAG had €10 billion cash at the end of April.
Mr Walsh postponed his retirement when the coronavirus crisis worsened, and will leave in September instead of June. Iberia chief executive Luis Gallego will succeed him.