Aer Lingus axes five Belfast routes

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The Independent Travel

Aer Lingus is cutting its Belfast service by taking one plane out of action and axing routes to Barcelona, Milan, Paris, Rome and Faro.

The move is part of the airline’s island-wide cuts to its winter schedule, and will also mean the lay-off of 55 cabin crew in Dublin.

The airline plans to slash short haul services over the winter, with the number of aircraft based in Dublin cut from 24 to 22.

However, new services from Belfast to Tenerife and Dublin to Fuerteventura and Tunisia will come into effect in October.

Aer Lingus said the 55 Dublin-based employees would go at the end of the month when their contracts are up.

Trade union Impact said the staff were angry at their treatment, as they were informed via text message to expect a call from bosses.

Union official Christina Carney said: “I have been speaking to these workers today and they are devastated.”

Ms Carney said the employees had worked hard for the airline and many had mortgages and now faced an uncertain future.

The airline said the staff, based out of Dublin Airport on short-haul services, were contacted by bosses via text message on Monday and were told to expect a call explaining how talks with union chiefs had progressed at the Republic’s Labour Relations Commission.

They were then contacted by telephone on Monday night and told that their contracts were not being renewed.

Ms Carney said: “There is a lot of shock and anger at how they have been treated and the manner in which the news was broken has added to that.”

Last month Aer Lingus reported €93m losses for the first half of 2009 — almost four times the figure for that period last year.

Source: The Belfast Telegraph