MIAMI – Aer Lingus (EI) canceled its contract with Cityjet (WX), which provided flights on behalf of the former on various routes, including ones from Dublin to London City Airport (LCY).
According to EI, its decision to terminate its wet-lease agreement with WX and “cease operations for the foreseeable future on the Dublin London City route” is due to the impact of COVID-19 on the industry – specifically, the closure of LCY and the uncertain duration thereof.
London City Airport suspended commercial and private flights on March 25 after the UK government announced COVID-19 response measures.
In its statement, the Irish carrier said that impacted guests set to travel with EI to/from LCY had been contacted directly and advised as to what options were available to them.
In addition to the LCY route, WX had also operated flights for EI under a wet-lease arrangement between Dublin and Paris and Dublin and Birmingham. Alas, low passenger demand has also taken its toll on said operations.
Cityjet has said that a thorough review of the business is now ongoing with a view to transforming it in such a manner that it can be made viable for the future. In April 2020, Kieran Wallace of KPMG was appointed examiner to WX’s parent company by the High Court.
Consultations with Unions in regards to the move
According to rte.ie, Cityjet signaled last week the start of a consultation process with unions that could lead to up to 700 redundancies across Europe, including 276 in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The report states that the Fórsa Union, representing the pilots, said that it had put forward alternative proposals that would allow the Dublin base of the airline to remain “operation-ready” in anticipation of a recovery in passenger demand before the year ends.
Among the proposals were a planned pay cut by up to 50% for pilots and cessation of all arrangements “to encourage cost savings”, all accompanied by absolute flexibility before the resumption of flight operations.
However, Fórsa official Ian McDonnell said that despite the alternative approach AL offered, “it’s become clear that CityJet intends to crew its Irish registered aircraft out of Dublin with employees based in Denmark and possibly other Scandinavian bases.”
McDonnell added that WX had a contract with SAS which was held by its Irish parent company CityJet DAC.
The Fórsa official said, “It’s extremely disappointing, particularly because Mr. Justice Michael Quinn, in granting the examinership, stated the number of people employed in the company was a relevant factor.”
“CityJet’s Dublin base has been in operation for 27 years, and many pilots have spent the majority of their aviation career with the airline.”
Prior to the crisis, WX had 1,175 employees on its payroll, of which more than 400 are based in Dublin, home to its headquarters.