News: Major Financial Cuts at Aer Lingus

St. Columba Aer Lingus plane on the runway at Dublin Airport.

By Frank Shouldice, Contributor
October / November 2004

Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline, is cutting costs in response to mounting financial difficulties. It is set to slash its workforce in an attempt to compete as a low-cost operator. The proposed redundancy package would reduce staff by a total of 1,325 jobs. Under terms agreed with trade unions, employees will be offered a generous severance package, with minimum payments of 40,000 euros and individual payments of nine weeks’ pay for each year of service.

Should the take-up go as expected, the package will cost the airline a total of 80 million euro. “It is an innovative, imaginative program,” said chief executive Willie Walsh, adding that the company had to react to commercial realities in the European and transatlantic market.

In related news, the airline has recently announced that beginning in January, it will no longer transport the bodies of Irish citizens who died in the U.K. and mainland Europe back home. The money-saving move has elicited criticism from the religious community, as well as Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) which has described the change in policy as “retrograde.”

Each year, Aer Lingus has transported the remains of nearly 1,200 Irish citizens who died abroad. According to IAFD spokesperson, Gus Nicholas, Aer Lingus has been effective in providing this valuable service. “It is a traumatic enough time for grieving families without the inevitable delays this decision is going to cause,” he commented.

Aer Lingus has come under increased pressure from low-fare airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet, particularly on the busy Dublin-London route. ♦

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