The news of job losses and temporary layoffs at Aer Lingus has left some devastated staff "crying down the phone", a union has said.
The airline today announced it will close its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport.
45 ground staff will be laid off, while 81 crew are being offered 'enhanced redundancy' or a transfer to Dublin.
The airline has also announced it's closing its Cork base from September until November, with 198 staff being laid off for three months.
Aer Lingus says immediate actions and structural changes are required due to the impact of the pandemic over the last 15 months.
Ashley Connolly, head of Fórsa’s services and enterprises division, spoke to The Hard Shoulder about the announcement.
She said: "I’ve been dealing with a lot of members who are crying down the phone, who are absolutely devastated at the catastrophic announcement made by the company.
“We would question the impact this will have on Ireland’s connectivity. But I do have to say today we are dealing with the devastating impact that this is having on many families who have dedicated decades to this company.
“I’ve spoken to some who have over 30 years service, and they do genuinely feel they’ve been cast aside and left in a situation of unknown consequences.”
The union wants Aer Lingus to engage with unions, so all options can be considered.
Ms Connolly said nobody has underestimated the impact of the pandemic, but Fórsa believes there is a way to find a pathway through the crisis.
Cathal Crowe, Fianna Fáil TD for Clare, says the news about Shannon comes just weeks before air travel is likely to start increasing again.
He said: “It’s devastating for the region, but devastating for the staff first of all.
“Aer Lingus is intrinsically linked to Shannon, and I suppose how the region lives or dies relies on our airport.
“For the staff… I’ve been speaking to some of them on the phone. They’re crying, and they’re absolutely devastated.”
Deputy Crowe said the airport depends on Aer Lingus and Ryanair, and for the former to withdraw is “beyond devastating”.
He said an “eleventh-hour intervention” is needed from the Government to convince Aer Lingus to stay.
He added: “Yes, I get it’s a commercial decision - but I think there has to be some space for them to stay on.”