• The airline has a total workforce of 4,500
  • The job cuts will impact 230 pilots and cabin crew, 120 support workers, 100 ground crew, and 50 maintenance workers
  • Aer Lingus complained that it has not received sufficient help from the Irish government

Aer Lingus, the flag carrier airline of Ireland, plans to cut up to 500 jobs due to the devastation wrought by the covid-19 pandemic.

The company said its operations were also hindered by the Irish government’s 14-day quarantine rule for all incoming travelers.

The airline has a total workforce of 4,500.

Since the March lockdown, Aer Lingus has operated at only 5% of its capacity. The company has already announced a 70% pay cut for employees who stay on.

The carrier said the pandemic had had a "catastrophic” effect on its business.

The job cuts will impact 230 pilots and cabin crew, 120 support workers, 100 ground crew, and 50 maintenance workers.

“Aer Lingus will now proceed with the planned layoffs and further reductions to working hours and pay” said Aer Lingus Chief Executive Sean Doyle, citing the “unprecedented crisis that we face.”

Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Donal Moriarty noted Aer Lingus only has eight aircraft operating passenger flights currently, compared to 57 in the same period last year.

The airline, a wholly owned subsidiary of International Airlines Group, or IAG, also complained that it has not received sufficient help from the Irish government

"[The government of] Ireland has failed to take steps that other European [Union] member states have taken -- they have progressively restored transport services and connectivity in response to a European Commission invitation to do so," said the Dublin-based carrier. "The requirement to reduce the size of the airline in response to the crisis means that… Aer Lingus has issued a notification to the [Irish] Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection regarding proposed collective redundancies in the airline. Aer Lingus has informed the minister that headcount reductions of up to 500 employees across the business are anticipated.”

A wage subsidy scheme by the Irish government expired on Sunday. Under that program, workers received one-half of their salary from Aer Lingus, with the remaining half coming from the government, i.e., the taxpayers.

The Irish trade union Forsa, which represents pilots, cabin crew and some managers, said it will seek to hold discussions with Aer Lingus management in an effort to minimize job losses.

Ireland’s largest trade union, SIPTU, condemned the airline’s actions.

Divisional organizer Karan O’Loughlin accused Aer Lingus of “pouring petrol on the fire of an already difficult industrial relations environment,”

Neil McGowan, aviation sector organizer at SIPTU, said the impending job losses “has shocked and upset our members” at Aer Lingus.

“SIPTU representatives will seek to ensure that… as many jobs as possible are maintained at the airline and that any workers who choose to exit the company do so on a voluntary basis,” McGowan said. “The airline must engage with the union immediately and in addition to limiting the numbers exiting and maintaining employment in the airline, management must also step back from the planned layoffs and further pay reductions it announced earlier this week.”

Some Irish lawmakers also urged the government to intervene to save jobs at the airline.

“This is very concerning news coming from Aer Lingus… that will only add to the stress and anxiety of workers at the airline,” said Darren O’Rourke, a member of the Irish parliament for the Sinn Fein party. “The pandemic has obviously had a major impact on the airline industry, but the government [has] taken a complete hands-off approach to dealing with it.”

Alan Farrell, an MP for the Fine Gael party, called the job losses "deeply saddening" and asked all sides to "engage in good faith.”

Duncan Smith, a member of the Labour party, said the job cuts were "a hammer blow for workers and their families.” He also accused Aer Lingus of using the Covid-19 pandemic "to pursue their long-term cost-cutting agenda to reduce staffing and worsen terms and conditions.”

Another IAG-owned British Airways has already warned of up to 12,000 job cuts.