Survival package for aviation must come with conditionality to protect jobs

22 June 2021

Labour transport spokesperson Duncan Smith has said any support for the aviation sector must be tied to staving of job losses. Questioning Aer Lingus’ CEO Lynn Embleton in committee today, Deputy Smith outlined best practice in the aviation industry across the EU where both jobs and airlines have been successfully protected against the economic impact of Covid.

Deputy Smith said:

“Few industries have been as devastated by the aviation sector. Its workers are the lifeblood of the experience for anyone travelling. From booking, to check-in, to during the flight, those who work in the aviation industry are absolutely central and essential to ensuring a safe and pleasant experience.

“However, I am deeply concerned about the attitude of Aer Lingus towards its workers, and its reluctance to tie support packages to saving jobs for their people. The CEO cited inefficiencies when arguing against tying jobs to a support package, but pre-pandemic, the airline was operating in a healthy manner, which seems to suggest that the airline is efficient and that all the workers play a vital role in the company.

“The aviation industry has been decimated by Covid-19. There have been so many jobs and families affected by recent announcements by Aer Lingus, including last month’s decision to close its crew base in Shannon airport and temporarily close its base in Cork airport. It is an uncomfortable and unfortunate truth for the Government that the job losses announced today are directly as a result of a systematic failure by Government to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect the aviation industry during its most severe crisis.

“We only need to look at the German Government’s intervention into helping their own aviation sector with their comprehensive bailout for Lufthansa. Government must bring stakeholders together in a similar fashion and devise a scheme that supports and sustains the jobs in our Irish aviation sector long into the future.

“We are an island nation. We urgently need to protect our aviation workers and industry. There will be better days ahead, global travel will return, but only if the workers at the heart of the industry are protected.”

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