Undertakers say IAG takeover has had adverse effect on repatriations
Aer Lingus has pledged it will continue to repatriate human remains from the UK to funerals in Ireland despite complaints expressed by undertakers in this country that it has been getting harder to do since it was taken over by BA’s owners, IAG.
The Dublin-based airline flatly rejected complaints that it was relegating coffins being transported to areas outside Dublin – such as Shannon and Cork – to later, less practical, flights.
Undertakers in London say the new practices – which include using the last flight of the evening to places like Shannon Airport – mean those travelling back for funerals face late night onward journeys and what was a two-day trip becoming a four-day affair.
They say that the marked deterioration in the availability of flights for funerals outside Dublin means mourners are also faced with much higher fares. The changes, they say, follow Aer Lingus’s takeover last year by BA owners IAG with restrictive new schedules coming in this month.
Hammersmith undertaker Lynn Furlong, of Patrick Ryan and Daughters, said her firm would bring at least one body a week, or at least every other week, back to a funeral in Ireland – often more. Irish funerals moving from London, or other parts of the UK, to Ireland are a common event here – reflecting the huge wave of at least half a million Irish migrating to here between 1951 and the early 1960s.
“We always use Aer Lingus’s cargo service, over the years they have been brilliant for repatriating remains and coffins, and generally always just so helpful. Don’t talk to me about Ryanair, never again.
“Dublin is alright because there are so many flights but things have changed with flights elsewhere becoming available only in dribs and drabs.
“I’ve spoken to the regional sales manager (name withheld) for cargo and was told it has all been taken over by IAG who don’t tell them anything, even though they were on Schedule Number 14 when I spoke to them.
“I was told in future there will only be certain flights that will take coffins and the service may even end altogether,” said Mrs. Furlong.
When contacted by the Irish World an Aer Lingus spokeswoman at the airline’s HQ in Dublin said: “Aer Lingus regularly transports human remains between Great Britain and Ireland there has been no change to our policy on this in recent years. “Aer Lingus works closely with undertakers and funeral directors to assist with the repatriation of human remains.
“Our ability to provide this service depends on the type and size of the aircraft we operate on each specific route.”
Of course, not everyone is dependent on Aer Lingus’ cargo services. The family of London publican Christy Kissane – who died in London last October – chartered two aircraft for mourners to follow his coffin back to his native Beaufort, Co. Kerry last November.