The decision by the company to commence a process which may lead to the closure of the Lufthansa plant at Rathcoole with the loss of 408 jobs was taken following an extensive review of operations, in the context of declining revenues and shrinking international market opportunities. The company has pointed out that enhanced quality and efficiencies of the new generations of aircraft engines – with reduced need for overhaul – has impacted on their business with fewer engines becoming available for service. There are also complex changes in the dynamics of aircraft maintenance worldwide, which have knock-on impacts in facilities such as those in Ireland.
Lufthansa are fully aware of the productive nature of the Rathcoole site and of its skilled workforce, but the decisions taken – while devastating for the employees and families of those affected – if closure proceeds, are purely commercial and based on wider market conditions. As you will appreciate, the ultimate decision in these cases is made by the parent company, on strictly commercial grounds, and on what is seen by the company as being in the best interests of the group as a whole.
I have met senior executives of the company on three occasions since taking office and IDA have been engaged with them over recent years in an effort to find solutions to the difficult business environment they face. Unfortunately the challenges are very significant. Since the announcement, IDA Ireland has met with company management with a view to creating a profile of the Rathcoole plant, and of the workforce and their skills, for marketing purposes by IDA’s global team. IDA will remain in on-going contact with the companies during the coming months. In addition, I have arranged that Enterprise Ireland will engage with the company to explore whatever other options might be possible, taking into account that Agency’s remit and experience in supporting the Irish-owned engineering sector.
I am conscious of the highly-skilled workforces and have asked IDA to explore the possibility of securing a takeover or buy-out for either company. I want to assure the Deputy that all that can be done by the State’s agencies in an effort to secure a positive result for the employees at both companies is being done and will continue to be done, including any appropriate upskilling of the employees affected.