- Airline chief appears before Oireachtas committee
- U-turn on closure of Shannon base unlikely
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe is calling on Aer Lingus to stop exploiting the taxpayer and their Shannon Airport staff members.
It follows the appearance of senior Aer Lingus officials before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport this morning, in which CEO Lynne Embleton said that while the airline is committed to connectivity from Shannon, there would be no consideration given to reverse the decision to permanently shut down the cabin crew base there.
“Aer Lingus’s decision to close the cabin crew base in Shannon Airport simply doesn’t make sense, despite what we were told today,” said Deputy Crowe.
“I’ve had staff members based out of Shannon tell me that it can cost up to €300,000 per annum to bus cabin crew of four down from Dublin, pay their overnight stay and travel allowances to staff flights, rather than have a few crew members based here in Shannon.
“I’ve called on Aer Lingus to reverse this decision but have been told that the decision is final.
“However, because of the taxpayer’s contribution to the running of the airline over the past 15 months, we need more than the empty promise of a commitment to connectivity.
“Today, I held up a redacted payslip from a Shannon worker to show Ms Embleton and her team.
“In a fortnight, this particular worker received just over €638 in salary – the government, in other words the taxpayer, paid €600 with Aer Lingus footing the remainder.
“The government has essentially paid the wage bill for Aer Lingus for 15 months and therefore there’s an onus on the airline to not treat their workers shoddily and to maintain basic connectivity in and out of the airport.
“While I welcome the fact that Ms Embleton has said that Aer Lingus is committed to ensuring connectivity at Shannon, there is a lot more at play.
“Workers in Shannon are facing job losses despite years of loyal service, whereas those based in Dublin Airport who might only be working with the company a year and a half are continuing to enjoy employment there.
“The bottom line is we need to see more solid commitment from Aer Lingus to Shannon Airport.
“The inefficiencies referred to by Aer Lingus in talking about the closure of the Shannon base, I don’t buy.
“Aer Lingus wanted all along to straighten some industrial relation stuff and have exploited the tax payer, who has footed their wage bill, by using Covid-19 to close this base and waiting until the eleventh hour to tell their loyal workers such.
“I will continue to liaise with Aer Lingus with a view to turning this decision around and I hope that we can engage in constructive discussions.”