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Updated: Voluntary redundancy scheme for Shannon

SOURCES on Wednesday evening indicated that employees aged in their mid 50s and older at Shannon Airport will be offered a voluntary redundancy package.

While Shannon’s traffic has increased since it separated from the Dublin Airport Authority at the start of 2013, it is still less than 50% of what it was at its peak.

As far back as June 2015, a voluntary redundancy scheme for the airport was first proposed, at a time when Neil Pakey was still its CEO. Then it was said that such a move would be required to address Shannon’s cost base, with staffing levels still relatively similiar to 2006 and 2007, when Shannon had more than 3.6 million passengers per annum. To put it in perspective, there were 1.7 million passengers in 2016.

It appears that the savings achieved through redundancies would be used in part to fund redevelopment at the airport. At the moment some works are underway in the terminal building and there are said to be plans for an overall investment of some €44 million with €15 million alone to be spent on the runway.

A subsequent statement from Shannon said that the redundancy option will only be for workers aged over 55 at the beginning of this year. It also indicated that there will be changes to work practices and realignment from Shannon being a full time Category 9 airport to a flexible Category 9 service.

The statement reads, “Shannon Airport has proposed the introduction of a range of measures to reduce costs and help facilitate a €44 million investment programme over the next five years. Among these projects in the overlay of the airport runway commencing this summer at a cost of €15 million. Shannon Group is committed to developing and investing in our airport and what the Group is proposing are measures to manage its business more efficiently to enable reinvestment back into the airport. We have commenced discussions on proposals to operate optimal manning levels to meet the needs of our airline customers.”

Regarding the changes being sought it says, “The realignment of Shannon Airport from a full-time Category 9 to a flexible Category 9 service.  This and other operational changes will result in a lower employee requirement and, to that end, we are proposing a Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme (“VER”) to employees over the age of 55 years as at 1st January 2017.We are also seeking to agree a redeployment programme for a number of business areas.We also require a number of measures which are vital to ensure we meet the needs of the business in the most cost effective manner. Among them are roster and shift changes, and work practice changes and efficiencies.

“These savings will bring Shannon’s competitiveness closer in line with accepted international aviation standards and ensure revenues are available to reinvest and drive employment elsewhere on the airport campus.”

Speaking to the Clare Champion, Sixmilebridge based Councillor PJ Ryan said he was surprised that the airport is looking to reduce staff numbers when its level of business is actually increasing.