Aer Lingus CEO Says Airline's Operations In Ireland Will Be Smaller 'For Some Time To Come'
Aer Lingus CEO Lynne Embleton has said that the airline's operations in Ireland will be smaller "for some time to come" and that it "will take a long time to fully recover".
As reported by rte.ie, Embleton, who appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks on Tuesday June 22, said that Aer Lingus will have to "right size", but that she hopes that this can be done via voluntary means.
Embleton reportedly told Senator Gerry Horkan that Aer Lingus operated 40 short haul aircraft before the COVID-19, but the airline is currently operating closer to 30 planes, "with many of those not seeing much utilisation on a daily basis".
Embleton reportedly said that Aer Lingus has 19 long haul aircraft, but "they're not working very hard either", and that the airline's expansion in Manchester should not have adversely affect Ireland and that she believes it will be a positive move.
Stobart Air Routes
Embleton reportedly also said that the majority of the Aer Lingus Regional route that were operated by Stobart Air before it ceased trading last week will be operated by Aer Lingus until at least the end of August, and that discussions with Emerald Airlines for that service are progressing well.
Embleton reportedly called for the introduction of rapid antigen tests and for US and UK residents who arrive in Ireland to be treated the same as those travelling under the EU Digital COVID Certificate system when it is implemented on July 19.
Losing More Than €1m A Day
Embleton reportedly said that Aer Lingus is losing more than €1 million a day and does not expect the government's plan to ease travel restrictions in July to give it a significant boost in the short term bounce.
Shannon Base Closure
Embleton reportedly said that Aer Lingus's decision to close its base at Shannon Airport does not signal a strategic retreat from the regions, but she cannot guarantee that there will be no more job losses.
Q1 2021 Loss
Embleton reportedly said that Aer Lingus lost €103 million during the first three months of 2021 and is in talks with its parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG) and the government about potential additional liquidity.
Rte.ie quotes Embleton as saying, "From the day we stop burning cash, that's not the end of our problems. We need to repay the debt, repay the interest, restore the balance sheet and have the money to be able to pay for aircraft."
€1bn In Damage, Support Requests And No Reversal Of Shannon Decision
According to The Irish Independent, Embleton said that almost €1 billion in damage has been done to Aer Lingus since the COVID-19 pandemic began, that the airline has previously asked the government for supports including rebates for airport charges, an extension of wage supports into 2022 and route specific supports, that none of those requests have been granted yet, and that the airline will not reverse its decision to close its Shannon Airport base.
The Irish Independent quotes Embleton as saying, "We have to adapt our business. There is uncertainty and there is worry. But it’s my job to ensure that Aer Lingus comes out of this crisis and is able to get back to doing what we want to be able to do, which is connect the island of Ireland, provide jobs, support tourism, support hospitality, support trade.
"To do that, I do need to restructure. I need to get us to a point where we have effective costs that supports flying. The changes we are making, we are not doing lightly. We are doing it because the situation requires it."
As reported by The Irish Times, Shannon Chamber director Kevin Thompstone told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks that the closure of the Aer Lingus crew base at Shannon Airport is a "devastating blow" to the airport, employees and the region.
The Irish Times quotes Thompstone as saying, "It is an indicator of the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the sector, nationally and globally."
The chamber is reportedly seeking a multiannual, fully funded, regional air-access recovery and growth action plan for the aviation sector that includes funding in the order of €32 million annually to ensure that smaller state-owned airports can sustain operations and a doubling of Tourism Ireland’s marketing fund from €47 million to €94 million.
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