Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l) is meeting unions this week to discuss the likely impact on jobs of the airline’s ongoing losses, which the IAG International Airlines Group-owned carrier has blamed on continued Irish government anti-Covid travel bans, the Irish Times reported.

Aer Lingus posted a EUR103 million euro (USD125 million) loss for the first quarter of 2021, which came on top of a EUR563 million (USD680 million) loss it reported for 2020.

While the Irish flag carrier’s newly appointed chief executive, Lynne Embleton, has said that the company is in talks with the government on further funding - it has already drawn down a EUR150 million (USD181 million) loan from the sovereign development body the Ireland Strategic Infrastructure Fund - she warned employees that job cuts may be needed if it loses a second potentially lucrative summer.

“When we took the EUR150 million loan, that was all towards the end of 2020 to deal with the situation we were in then. We find ourselves in a more difficult situation now,” she said.

Fórsa, a union representing pilots and crew, and Siptu, representing ground staff, are due to meet Aer Lingus management separately on Friday, May 15, to discuss the situation.

Embleton told staff in a video on May 7 that Aer Lingus had “too many resources and will need to adapt” to the current situation “and right-size and right-shape its structure” as it faced Ireland’s travel restrictions, “the most stringent” in Europe. These include hotel quarantines and a ban on all non-essential travel, and with no plan yet in place for reopening.

“In the immediate term, as a result of the restrictions and the lack of a roadmap, we have got very few bookings for the months ahead, and it’s clear that we’re going to have a smaller schedule and a smaller fleet than previously anticipated,” she warned.

Neil McGowan, Siptu aviation sector organiser, expressed his concern that the industry was at a critical point, stressing: “We have a real concern that companies are going to start deciding they will cut their workforces on a permanent basis. That will make recovery all the harder.” He urged the government to keep supporting aviation workers’ pay past its endpoint in June, “until the end of the year at least.”

Separately, in a letter to Aer Lingus corporate affairs chief Donal Moriarty, County Clare parliamentarian Joe Carey said that concern had emerged in recent days that the carrier’s transatlantic services from Shannon Airport may not resume until February or even June 2022, the Clare Echo reported on May 10.

The airline’s routes from Shannon to London Heathrow, New York JFK, and Boston are “of immense importance to business and tourism in the Mid-West” region of Ireland, Carey said. “Aer Lingus staff based in Shannon are extremely disappointed at the continued lack of information, consultation, and communications from Aer Lingus management in terms of the airline’s plans. This must be addressed as soon as possible”.