Aer Lingus to axe routes and jobs after cost talks fail

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Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus is to axe more routes, reduce the number of aircraft in operation, and shed further jobs after failing to reach a crucial cost-savings agreement with flight crew.

The airline is blaming intransigence by pilots and, to a degree, cabin crew for its decision after a week of talks with unions.

Aer Lingus needs to slash personnel expenditure as part of a restructuring programme. But chief executive Christoph Mueller says the carrier has "not reached agreement" across all areas of the plan.

"We have narrowed the gap with most union groups on the achievement of sustainable savings and this has brought us very close to signature with them," Mueller acknowledges.

But he says the attitudes of the Irish Airline Pilots Association and, "to a lesser extent", cabin crew are an "exception to this promising outcome".

"Instead of sustainable savings of a structural nature, only temporary savings over a short few years were offered by [pilots]," says Mueller. "Aer Lingus was asked for very high compensation in return.

"Our pilot compensation and productivity remains out of line with the compensation and productivity of our competitors.

Aer Lingus has not identified the routes to be cut, or the number of aircraft affected, but Mueller says that the board has opted to reduce capacity - and associated jobs - in order to bring down its costs.

"It is very likely that these redundancies will commence immediately and will be compulsory," he adds.

He states that he is still confident that Aer Lingus can remain independent, but says: "On this occasion it has not been possible to reach agreement with all our employee groups and we must now take whatever actions are necessary to stabilise the business."