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Aer Lingus To Axe 150 Cabin Crew In Bid To Cut €22m Loss

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Up to 154 Aer Lingus cabin crew in the Republic are set to lose their jobs after staff voted in favour of a plan to prevent the airline hiring US-based workers and closing two bases.

A total of 94 jobs will be axed at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports and an extra 60 workers will be made redundant at Shannon Airport in a deal their union has described as “painful”.

Another 200 ground handling staff have already opted to leave the airline through a separate deal with SIPTU, bringing total redundancies to 354.

Cabin crew union Impact yesterday revealed that 59% of staff had voted in favour of a draft proposal brokered with management to cut the loss-making airline’s costs by €15m.

They backed a plan that will mean a slimmed-down Shannon base for cabin crew will be retained while staff recruited in Ireland will continue to man transatlantic flights.

Management had planned to hire US-based crew on flights to New York, Boston and San Francisco and close cabin crew bases in Shannon and Heathrow.

It also planned to outsource 1,300 ground handling jobs.

The airline later accepted alternative plans put forward by Impact and SIPTU following

lengthy talks at the Labour Relations Commission to prevent it forging ahead with its plans.

Last Friday the airline confirmed that the SIPTU plan to avoid outsourcing would take €25m off costs and it is likely to rubberstamp the Impact plan to make €15m savings within days.

The unions’ cost-cutting measures must make savings of €40m from a total of €50m in staff savings, the remainder coming from new contracts and a pay freeze.

The staff savings are part of an overall strategy to reduce the airline’s costs by €74m by downsizing operations.

The airline suffered €22m losses this year and predicts further losses next year. Aer Lingus chief executive Dermot Mannion said last night: “This decision by Impact is a milestone development for the airline and will enable us to deliver on our stated objectives of securing annual staff cost savings of €50m.

“The outcome of the vote today, combined with a significant reduction in the cost of fuel, underpins our ability to deliver growth for the future and secures our long haul service into and out of the Shannon region, and allows us to look at opportunities for short haul growth from Shannon airport.”

Impact last night admitted workers’ support for its plan was by no means “overwhelming” with the margin of 59% voting in favour of deal out of its 1,500 cabin crew members.

The SIPTU deal was far more popular with staff, with almost 80% giving it their backing.

But Impact insisted it had “significantly reduced” the 420 job losses that management had proposed.

The new deal also means staff have accepted new productivity measures, deferred pay increases under the national pay deal until July 2010 and new pay scales for recruits after five years.

The airline suffered €22m losses this year and predicts further losses next year.

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