By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – The result of the crucial vote of the 1,500 staff in Aer Lingus’ troubled maintenance subsidiary, TEAM, about its takeover by the Danish company FLS, is expected to be announced later this week.
About 1,200 staff who have been with the company since it was set up have been offered a buyout averaging _35,000 for controversial “letters of comfort” they were given when they agreed to switch to TEAM from the main airline.
The deal, which will cost _54.6 million, will see some staff getting lump sums of _60,000 to buy out the guarantees.
About 300 staff who joined TEAM since it began in 1991 will also get payments of up to _5,000 even though they haven’t got the letters of comfort.
The letters were given to persuade mechanics and maintenance crews to join TEAM and guaranteed that workers could return to the main airline if anything happened to the new subsidiary.
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They also guaranteed the airline would maintain a majority 51 percent shareholding in TEAM.
About 150 workers have already started a court challenge to have the letters honored.
Sources close to the airline management say that if workers do not accept the buyout offer and demand reinstatement in Aer Lingus, they will be made redundant as there are no jobs for them.
The source said that any redundancy package from the airline may not be as generous as the TEAM buyout offer.
The vote outcome is expected to be available late Wednesday or Thursday after the ballots have been returned to senior counsel Gerry Durcan, who is operating as “facilitator” in the negotiations.
The airline has signed a memorandum of agreement with FLS, which emerged as the successful bidder after lengthy negotiations that are also understood to have involved two U.S. groups, B.F. Goodrich and Allied Signal.
FLS ‘rospace operates aircraft repair facilities at three British airports.
TEAM services the Aer Lingus planes and also has contracts with several other airlines, including Virgin and Lauda Air.