THE Government should use its 25% shareholding in Aer Lingus to secure a reversal of the company’s plans to relocate high-end maintenance jobs from Shannon to Dublin Airport, Cllr James Collins declared this week.
He was speaking at Monday’s county council meeting where he had a motion calling for the Government to pressurise Aer Lingus to retain the jobs at Shannon. However, he said: “I’m afraid the train may already have left the station on this one.”
When it was announced that Shannon was to be decoupled from the Dublin Airport Authority, the designation of Shannon as a global centre for aviation was “music to the ears”, the councillor explained. But a media leak had revealed that some 55 aircraft maintenance jobs were to be transferred to Dublin. “The Minister spoke of net gains,” Cllr Collins continued but the jobs to be transferred were “high-value” ones.
“These people are being forced to leave the area,” he continued.
Staff had presented Aer Lingus with an alternative plan, which would have led to significant costs savings and a shorter pay-back time but Aer Lingus rejected the plan. “There was no real engagement,” he added. “After all that, it wasn’t a financial decision, it was a business decision.”
There had been difficulties with Aer Lingus regarding Shannon Airport in the past, Cllr Collins said, referring to the Heathrow slots, and the Government had used its shareholding to good effect on that.
Now however, he said: “Aer Lingus has made up its mind. There has been no pressure put on them to keep high end maintenance jobs in Shannon and 55 jobs are to transfer to Dublin.” Many would be unable to relocate, he said, because of family reasons or because they were unable to sell homes in this region and buy dearer ones in Dublin. He asked that Government pressure be brought to bear to have the decision reversed – or at the very least, a realistic package be offered to those affected. The motion was agreed. “It is another erosion of what we have,” Cllr Eddie Ryan said. “It’s a crying shame.”
A motion from Cllr Pat Fitzgerald, calling on the Govenrment to make funding available for the new Shannon airport authority was also agreed. Funding was needed to ensure its viability as an independent entity, Cllr Fitzgerald said, also calling for funding for the amalgamated council.