Fórsa this afternoon (Friday) called on the Government to act swiftly to ensure that Ireland has an aviation industry after the Covid-19 health crisis is over.
The union, which represents workers in all Irish-based airlines, airports and airport authorities, said there was a danger that the industry would be so weakened over the coming months that it would be unrecognisable by the end of the year.
It said regional airports were particularly vulnerable.
Fórsa said a Government indication that its wage subsidy scheme would remain in place beyond the middle of June was the first essential step in underpinning the sector. The union said this would reduce the pressure on aviation employers to downsize.
The union said airlines and other aviation companies would need skilled and experienced staff in place in order to bounce back when Covid restrictions ease.
In a conference call with unions today, Aer Lingus said it was anticipating a reduction of up to 20% of its workforce. The airline said it would be putting forward proposals for a voluntary redundancy scheme, and that it would also seek changes to current arrangements for pay, working time and work practices.
It made no specific proposals in this regard, and Fórsa expects proposals to be made next week.
All other employers in the sector are under huge pressure because of the Covid-related restrictions on movement, and subsequent collapse in passenger traffic.
Forsa’s head of Services and Enterprises Angela Kirk said unions recognised that the entire aviation industry was facing its biggest crisis in a lifetime.
“We will work with aviation employers to ensure the maximum possible protection to jobs, incomes, and an industry that has served the people of Ireland well.
“We’ve sought that pay arrangements currently in place be extended until 21st June as a minimum. We pointed out that the wage subsidy scheme was of considerable financial benefit to the company and the extension of the current arrangements until that date is affordable.
“We’re awaiting proposals on what we expect to be a voluntary redundancy package, and we’ve told the company that there will need to be discussions on any proposed changes to work practices and working time.” she said.
In a letter to the union following its statement on the financial markets this morning, Ryanair management said it estimated that up to 3,000 job cuts and/or pay cuts of up to 20% would be required across the network. Fórsa officials are expecting to engage with Ryanair in the coming days.