Fórsa seeks German-style income supports as aviation faces a ‘second lost summer’

Fórsa seeks German-style income supports as aviation faces a ‘second lost summer’

Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan today (Thursday) said his union was seeking German-style State supports for aviation jobs and incomes in light of tighter ongoing restrictions on air travel, which will likely mean a second consecutive ‘lost summer’ for the industry.

Mr Callinan also said he would press the Government to implement recommendations in the July 2020 report of its Taskforce for Aviation, and a December 2020 Oireachtas report on the emergency in the sector, which he said had been largely ignored.

The 80,000-strong union, which represents several thousand aviation workers in airlines, airports, regulatory bodies and air traffic control, said Ireland lacked a European-style joined-up Government approach to underpin jobs in the sector, protect aviation infrastructure, and ensure the survival of a viable post-pandemic industry.

Mr Callinan said he would raise the union’s proposals at a meeting of the Government-employer-union high-level forum, the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF), when it meets next week.

He said Fórsa was demanding stakeholder engagement to urgently address – and avoid – the devastation of Irish aviation jobs and capacity.

Fórsa is proposing an aviation income support scheme similar to that in place in Germany, which enables employers to reduce hours rather than laying staff off, with the Government providing 60% income replacement for the time employees can’t work. It also wants engagement with mortgage providers to explore enhanced mortgage breaks for the duration of the Covid-related slump in aviation.

Mr Callinan said the sector would be hit harder and longer than most by extended Covid-related restrictions. He added that current lockdown projections, together with public health advice against an early relaxation of travel restrictions, were stoking fears of permanent job losses in the sector.

The Government needs to act with aviation stakeholders – and act now – to prevent widespread lay-offs in advance of a second ‘lost summer,’ and to ensure the survival of an industry that underpins Ireland’s connectivity and supports tens of thousands of Irish livelihoods.

“Governments across Europe have acted to protect airline and aviation jobs far more decisively than in Ireland. The Government’s slowness to engage fully with stakeholders, and to implement recommendations from its Taskforce on Aviation and the December 2020 report of the Oireachtas transport committee, are placing an entire industry at risk,” he said.

Mr Callinan said additional supports to Cork, Shannon, and regional airports were welcome but insufficient to the task. He said it was essential that the relationship between employees and employers is maintained throughout the crisis, so that airlines and other employers are in a position to quickly bounce back once travel restrictions are eased.