Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 7 Feb 1979

Vol. 311 No. 4

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Shannon Airport Facilities.


andMr. Taylor asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he is aware of the grave concern regarding recent proposals by Aer Rianta to reduce services and staff at Shannon Airport; if so, if he has approved these proposals; and if he will make a full statement on the matter.

, Dublin South-Central): Shannon Airport is managed by Aer Rianta who, following a number of press reports on this subject, issued a statement on 19 January. In their statement Aer Rianta pointed out that the increasingly seasonal nature of traffic at Shannon, where currently less than 25 per cent of total business is handled in the period November to April, is resulting in unacceptably high losses in the off-peak periods and that this trend, allied to escalating payroll and other costs, is seriously threatening the viability of the total Shannon operation. The statement further pointed out that Aer Rianta have for some time been indicating concern in this matter to employees and union representatives and that proposals in regard to reductions in the hours of operation of certain non-essential commercial activities during the winter months have recently been conveyed to employees and unions and discussions are in progress. The statement further indicated that it is not envisaged that there will be any loss of jobs among permanent staff employed at Shannon.

These discussions are still in progress and it would be inappropriate for me to make any statement in the matter.

I might add that, as emphasised in their statement, Aer Rianta are actively pursuing a policy of developing Shannon by attracting new business and creating productive employment at the airport. For example, an additional 80 jobs will be created in the Shannon mail order business over the next five years.

Was the Minister informed of this proposed reduction in staff and, if so, can he give us the date on which he had been informed? Also did he agree to it?

(Dublin South-Central): Aer Rianta are an independent company on their own and are an operating company. We were informed some time ago but I have not the exact date on which we were notified of the matter.

I would like to press the Minister to inform the House if there were consultations before Aer Rianta arrived at this decision and had consultations with the unions. Does the Minister agree with the policy of Aer Rianta in this matter?

(Dublin South-Central): Aer Rianta have been having discussions with the unions for a considerable length of time on this matter and have indicated to the unions the losses which they have sustained over a number of years, not alone over the past few months.

People were employed in a temporary capacity during the peak period from April to November who would normally after two years service be retained and made permanent. Is it now the intention of Aer Rianta to let those people off without making them permanent employees? Does the Minister approve of this policy? Is it true that as members of the Aer Rianta staff become redundant it is the policy of Aer Rianta, and I assume the policy of the Minister, that those people will not be replaced and that there will be a rundown of the staff from 900 to 700? Is this in line with the Government's job policy and job-sharing with the public sector having to take up its proper proportion of workers?

(Dublin South-Central): The policy of the Government in Aer Rianta is quite the opposite. The decision being taken now is to ensure the long-term viability of the company. I have already said that 85 new jobs will be created in the mail order business to ensure that we build up Shannon as a viable unit.

Has the Minister——

This is Deputy O'Donnell's question also.

——researched the possibilities of picking up this proposed job loss? What research has he done to show that alternative jobs can be made available?

(Dublin South-Central): Aer Rianta have carried out researches regarding the extension of the mail order business. It is concentrated mostly in the US at the moment, and they intend to expand it and to extend it to the UK and into Europe.

Does the Minister intend to make permanent those who have been in a temporary capacity for the past 18 months or two years, as has been the custom in previous years?

(Dublin South-Central): There will be no loss of permanent jobs in Shannon. I have already indicated that.

I have asked the Minister about the temporary jobs which were made permanent prior to this year. This is the first year in which this situation has occurred.

(Dublin South-Central): This is a matter for negotiation with Aer Rianta and the trade unions.

Does the Minister of State realise that the concern that has arisen has been based on two very important facts? Firstly, there is a proposed rationalisation programme by Aer Rianta which is designed to achieve two objectives, one to reduce staff and the other to reduce services. Instead of Shannon being a 24-hour airport as it has always been, it is going to have limited services now. The Minister of State could agree to consult with his Minister, and then they could both take up the matter with Aer Rianta. It must be possible for a semi-State body with the assistance of SFADCo and other semi-State bodies to generate that little bit of extra business which would ensure that the existing workforce, both permanent and temporary, are maintained in employment and the airport can remain open for 24 hours.

(Dublin South-Central): The services that will be available in Shannon will be as good as any to be found in most international airports, and the Deputy knows that.

Would the Minister of State convey our representations via his own Minister to Aer Rianta?

(Dublin South-Central): Aer Rianta are fully aware of the Deputy's representations. He has already met them in Shannon.