Transport | Why the Dublin Airport Authority was able to qualify for the employment wage subsidy scheme, make employees redundant, and launch a recruitment campaign at the same time
* To ask the Minister for Transport the way and the reason that the Dublin Airport Authority was able to qualify for the employment wage subsidy scheme while at the same time making employees redundant while also launching a recruitment campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I wish to thank the Deputies for raising these questions.
daa introduced a Voluntary Severance Scheme (VSS) during the summer of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 crisis as part of the cost-cutting measures deemed necessary to secure the continued viability of the company.
This was at a time when the daa was losing €1m per day, passenger traffic was substantially reduced, and there was uncertainty around the timing of a recovery with 2019 levels of passengers not envisaged until 2024/2025.
daa took a number of measures to address its cost base of which payroll was its largest cost. At the time all staff were working a 4-day week and salaries were reduced to 80% from normal levels, giving rise to significant savings. However, even with these temporary measures in place and given the dramatic fall in passenger numbers, daa advised that it needed to urgently reduce staff numbers to align with the reduced volume of business. The daa was seeking to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies, wholesale lay-offs and permanent reductions to pay which it was ultimately successful in achieving.
Given the extremely serious situation that the daa was in, at the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform approved the terms and conditions of the VSS proposed by daa as required under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.
The VSS was closed to new applicants in December 2020 and daa did not start any significant external recruitment until Q3 2021 as public health restrictions on travel began to be partially lifted.
In relation to the question around the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the key eligibility criteria for EWSS was that a business was expected to experience a 30% reduction in turnover due to disruption from COVID-19. daa met all of the criteria to make a claim under the EWSS scheme and periodically reviewed the criteria to ensure that it continued to meet all requirements for the duration of the scheme.
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