Talks between Aer Lingus management and cabin crew union IMPACT are taking place at the LRC in a bid to resolve the row over the outsourcing of crewing on new transatlantic routes from Shannon in January.

The airline announced last month that it will shut the Shannon cabin crew base in March after their refusal to operate the new routes - which use smaller planes - with four crew instead of five.

Aer Lingus has told the 86 staff affected that they will be offered redeployment to Dublin or Cork, voluntary severance, leave of absence to work for the outsourcing company or redundancy.

However, the company has not stated whether that could include compulsory redundancies.

In addition, 30 trainees who had been recruited to staff the new routes were let go before their training had been completed.

Talks took place on Friday and Saturday and will resume later this evening.

Sources say time is of the essence for resolving the dispute as the first flights are due to take off on 6 January.

Prior to that date, staff must do a six-week training course, and if the work is outsourced, the external operator ACL will also have to recruit staff.