Airport staff layoffs as Covid-19 losses mount

Kerry Airport has announced that half of its staff are to be temporarily laid off due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis and Ryanair’s decision to cancel flights for four weeks.

n a statement on Monday management at the airport said that a “significant” number of staff would be placed on temporary lay-off for four weeks starting from October 16.

While the exact number of staff has not been confirmed The Kerryman understands the lay-offs will affect around half of the roughly 50 workers employed at the airport.

The airport will stay open to service flights on the State subsidised Kerry Dublin route with staff covering “multiple operational requirements”.

Airport management said the duration of the layoffs “may well extend beyond four weeks”.

Kerry Airport CEO John Mulhern said the lay-offs were needed to safeguard the future of the airport and the decision was taken as a last resort after all other options were exhausted.

“Every effort has been made until now to minimise the impact of the financial losses associated with this downturn in activity. Unless we take this action, Kerry Airport will not be in a financial position to withstand this prolonged decline caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mr Mulhern.

“Every avenue to prevent the decisions I now make have been exhausted and I sincerely thank every one of my colleagues for the efforts they have made to keep all our operations in place since March,” he added.

“I fully understand how upsetting this news is for everybody and this is certainly a day we all fought so bravely to avoid,” said Mr Mulhern.

Kerry Airport said in its 2019 annual report that it was expecting historic trading losses this year due to the pandemic.

These losses have been compounded by an investment that took a disastrous turn when markets crashed at the outset of the Covid crisis in March.

The Airport had held a three year “European Fixed Rate Bond”, worth €1.5 million at the end 2019, which was due to mature at the end of last March.

The bond, managed by an unidentified bank, was “in the black” in February but its value collapsed when markets crashed as Covid-19 hit Europe.

A 20 per cent “loss limit” was in place but the market crash still led to a loss of €305,931 on the airport’s investment.

The Department of Transport said it will examine the loss in its review of airport finances as it assesses applications for funding under the 2021 Regional Airports Programme.

On Tuesday a €6 million emergency support package was announced for Kerry, Knock and Donegal airports. – News