From bad to worse for Aer Lingus

From bad to worse for Aer Lingus

Troubles at Aer Lingus have deepened after the former Irish flag carrier warned that operating losses quadrupled last year due to a collapse in fares.

The former Irish flag carrier said that operating losses mushroomed from €20 million to €81 million as both short and long-haul fares both took a beating. Short-haul fares were down by about 12 per cent on 2008 while long-haul fares fell by 15.9 per cent.

Sales at Aer Lingus, which is 25 per cent owned by the Irish government and 30 per cent by Ryanair, fell by 11 per cent, to €1.2 billion. This came despite a 3.8 per cent rise in total passenger numbers to 10.4 million and an increase in ancillary fees.

The news comes as the airline delays publication of detailed full year results due to a row with its cabin crew.

Aer Lingus is pushing for 800 job cuts, about one in five of its workforce, as part of a €97 million restructuring programme. The proposals have been accepted by the pilots’ unions, management and maintenance staff but rejected by over 1,000 cabin crew.

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The airline board is meeting today to discuss options. One outcome would entail making 1,000 staff compulsorily redundant and introduce sweeping cutbacks to its routes and schedules if its proposals were rejected by employees.