FÓRSA trade union has said the winter closure of Ryanair bases in Cork and Shannon, announced today (Thursday) has struck a devastating blow for crew and pilots at these bases, their families and communities, as well as for other airport staff and the economies of both regions.
Ian Mc Donnell, the Fórsa official representing pilots at Ryanair, has expressed disappointment that the airline’s management did not make contact and allow for proper time to engage with the union before making the decision.
“The union’s mission since the pandemic struck the country in March has been to worked closely with all aviation employers, including Ryanair, in order to maximise job protection.
“Fórsa has called on the Government to intervene to support the industry because Ireland’s connectivity through aviation is crucial to its economy. The industry supports quality jobs throughout the country,” he said.
Ashley Connolly, Fórsa’s cabin crew industrial official said: “Despite the publication of the biggest budget spend in the history of the state this week, there were no additional supports for the aviation industry.
“Arguably, the absence of any additional supports made these closures inevitable, and it remains unclear if any support is coming. Either way, it’s too late now for the Ryanair pilots and crew in Cork and Shannon,” she said.
The union’s deputy general secretary Matt Staunton said the union has lobbied for government support for the aviation industry on the basis of the economic importance of Ireland’s air connectivity.
He added: “Fórsa has communicated its view on a number of occasions to the transport minister that, in the event that the Government steps in to support the industry, in the form of financial assistance to the airlines, it must come with the express condition of no compulsory redundancies or offshoring of services currently staffed by Irish staff and crew.
“The situation for aviation is getting worse, not better, as we enter the latest phase of tackling this pandemic. The Government cannot afford not to act,” he said.
Mr Staunton acknowledged the Budget 2021 provision for additional capital funding for regional airports announced on Tuesday (13th October) by Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics Hildegarde Naughton TD: “While this provision is welcome, and provides some support for the regional airports, it hasn’t been able to prevent the base closures announced today.
“It raises the question for us as to whether the Government will do enough to ensure the survival of the industry as a whole. That remains to be seen, and we cannot be complacent about it,” he said.
Fórsa general secretary and vice-president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Kevin Callinan, has previously called on the Government to engage collectively with all interests directly involved in the aviation sector.
He said the challenges and severe difficulties facing workers, and the companies that employ them, in recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, are set to continue for a prolonged period.
Fórsa represents members employed throughout the Irish aviation industry, including Aer Lingus and Ryanair, as well as staff at the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and Shannon Airport Authority.
In May this year the union called on the Government to act swiftly to ensure that the country would still have an aviation industry after the Covid-19 health crisis is over, and identified regional airports as being particularly vulnerable.