Irish airline Aer Lingus to lay off 500 workers due to pandemic – dpa international


Social distancing guidelines in St. Stephen's Green, a park in central Dublin (Simon Roughneen)

Social distancing guidelines in St. Stephen’s Green, a park in central Dublin (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Citing a slump in air travel due to the coronavirus, Aer Lingus on Friday announced it will fire 500 workers and slammed Ireland’s interim government for failing “to take steps that other European [Union] member states have taken.”

Citing a “catastrophic” collapse in air travel that has reduced it to 5 per cent of its pre-pandemic operations, the airline said that other European countries “have progressively restored transport services and connectivity in response to a European Commission invitation to do so.”

The 30 flights undertaken by Aer Lingus in the past week amount to around 10 per cent of the level of activity the same week one year ago, the airline said.

Friday’s jobs cull followed a Monday announcement by Aer Lingus that pay and working hours will be cut to 30 per cent of what they were before the virus.

Ireland had an election in February, but the parties did not agree on a new government until earlier this week. The previous administration, headed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, stayed on in a caretaker role as the pandemic struck.

Ireland has reported almost 26,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,714 related deaths – with around half the fatalities in nursing or care homes for the elderly.

The number of new cases each day has dropped in recent weeks, with 13 announced on Friday by health officials. Varadkar said late on Friday that “we can accelerate the reopening of our society and economy.”

Official data from 2018 suggests tourism is worth around 10 billion dollars to Ireland’s trade- and investment-oriented economy, which now faces a severe recession due to the pandemic.

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