It is hard to tell if this is a negotiations ploy or a serious move, but Aer Lingus appears to be making overtures towards moving their base of operations out of the Republic of Ireland. The Irish carrier has applied to the CAA in the United Kingdom for an operating license. Should the license be granted it would be possible for planes that are currently operating under an Irish license to be transferred to a newly established company in either Belfast or London to operate from there. Even more importantly, however, is that the “new” company would need to hire a whole bunch of new employees and the old company would have no planes and would simply dismiss all their employees. Folks who want to continue working for Aer Lingus would then reapply for their existing jobs at the new company.
Obviously the move would be a huge blow against the labor unions, the same groups that Aer Lingus is currently locked in rather contentious negotiations with. So maybe this is posturing and maybe it is for real. But reading this bit in the article was particularly interesting:
Aer Lingus has a huge issue with it long-haul pilots, who make up to $500,000 a year on the Atlantic route and have golden pension plans as well. Ryanair pilots, by comparison, are only paid half that amount.
Making half a million a year is a quite posh salary level. Of course the implication that the Ryanair pilots are making a quarter million annually seems high so I’m not sure that the other numbers are really legit. But that’s an awfully large salary base to handle with the current financial woes that many airlines are facing. Even in good times I’m not sure how it was profitable to fly while paying out salaries at that level.
Supposedly there is a deadline in the coming week for negotiations with the unions to be successful in identifying cuts or there will be layoffs and route cuts. And there is no timeline on the application for the new operating certificate. Lots of fun in the Isles with plenty more on the horizon. Still, having the flying shamrock actually being a British company baase would be just plain strange.
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Those salary numbers seem ridiculously high.
And comparing long haul pilots to Ryanair short-haul doesn't make a whole lot of sense (even though, frankly, I don't understand/agree with the huge difference in income between short haul and long haul … and even more extreme, local carriers).
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