Showing posts with label European carriers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European carriers. Show all posts

Friday, May 30, 2008

Flyglobespan cabin crew to have union representation

Unite logoUnite, the largest trade union within the Civil Air Transport Sector in the United Kingdom, has officially gained recognition as the collective bargaining unit for more than 200 cabin crew at the low fare airline Flyglobespan. In a statement released by Unite, national officer Brian Boyd described the deal as a 'breakthrough'. The union has been involved in a long campaign for recognition at Flyglobespan which has been resisted by the company for more than a year.

The union submitted an application to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) in December of 2007 for recognition for collective bargaining at Flyglobespan. The CAC now has declared that the union should be recognized by the employer to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of all UK based permanent cabin crew including senior cabin crew at the following airports: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Durham Tees, Exeter, London Gatwick, Doncaster/Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham and Belfast. Flyglobespan is headquartered at Edinburgh.

Mr. Boyd said, "This is a breakthrough for cabin crew employees at Flyglobespan. They have sought nothing more than the basic right to be heard in their workplace. They are a dedicated and professional group of workers, who have served passengers well in difficult circumstances.

"They are now entitled to be rewarded for their efforts with improved terms and conditions of employment. We will now be entering into discussions with the company, with the intention of establishing a positive relationship, and one that acts on the concerns of Flyglobespan's cabin crew."

Monday, April 21, 2008

SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Asian cabin crew dispute

SAS logoLast month I reported that Scandinavian airline SAS went on trial in Copenhagen for allegedly employing Asian flight attendants without Danish work permits. The airline also was accused of paying the Asian cabin crew members substandard wages.

The matter was heard in the Copenhagen City Court, and the Copenhagen Post reports that SAS was found guilty of the charges and fined DKK 900,000. SAS has appealed the verdict to the Danish High Court.

Meanwhile, legislation has been proposed in the Danish Parliament to allow SAS, which is partly owned by the Danish government, to use Chinese personnel on its route between Copenhagen and Beijing. Now the Copenhagen Post is reporting that if parliament does not allow SAS to use Asian cabin crew, the airline has said it may re-register its planes in Norway or Sweden.

The Copenhagen Post article quotes Lars Sandahl Sørensen, CEO of SAS International, who said, "Although it's a solution we'd rather avoid, we might be forced into it."

Planes registered in Denmark are required to operate with personnel who are legally allowed to work in Denmark. The same permit rule may exist in Sweden and Norway as well, but Sørensen said, "...if it does then it would only apply to those countries' own airspaces, and not to Denmark." In other words, the plan seems to be to fly the Beijing-Copenhagen route with planes registered outside of Denmark, in order to dodge the Danish work permit rule.

Sørensen said that employing Chinese crews has nothing to do with paying them lower wages and everything to do with service.

"It's integral for us to have Chinese cabin crews on our flights to China because half the passengers are Chinese," he said. "And it's hard to provide good service for them if we can't communicate."

Sørensen said SAS could not pay the Chinese flight attendants Danish wages because it would create a huge salary disparity between them and their colleagues working on the ground in mainland China. The Chinese crew members earn around 10,000 kroner less per month than their Danish counterparts.
This argument sounds similar to excuses given by Air New Zealand for paying its Chinese cabin crew a fraction of what it pays New Zealand nationals to do identical work. Verner Lundtoft, president of the Cabin Attendants Union, says that the SAS threat to sidestep Danish law is "appalling," and I agree.
"We're talking about a partially state-owned and listed company attempting to avoid the requirements of Danish law," said Lundtoft. "It's completely unacceptable."

Lundtoft pointed out that none of SAS' competitors have employed Asian personnel on their China routes without providing equal working conditions.

"Finnair says it pays their Asian crews Finnish wages, Lufthansa has Chinese cabin crew members earning German scale pay, and Air France has interpreters on board its Asian flights," said Lundtoft.
Apparently SAS can legally re-register its planes in Sweden and Norway, as the airline is a Scandinavian-operated company. It remains to be seen if this will solve the labor issue, however.

It's time for all international air carriers to pay all crew equally for equal work, regardless of ethnicity or national origin. No excuses!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scandinavian airline SAS on trial over Asian cabin crew

SAS logoA recent article on Forbes.com, the business news website, reported that "Scandinavian airline SAS went on trial in Copenhagen for allegedly hiring Chinese and Japanese flight attendants without Danish work permits." The airline is said to have paid sub-standard wages to the 34 Chinese and 31 Japanese cabin crew hired since 2005.

The news article says:

The prosecution is calling for SAS to pay a fine of 2 mln dkr and for an additional 5 mln dkr it says the airline saved by paying the flight attendants sub-standard wages, to be confiscated from the company.

Following pressure from the unions, the Danish Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs decided in 2006 to file suit against SAS, which is partially state-owned, for violating Danish labour laws.

SAS explained at the time that it needed the Asian air hostesses to attend to the needs of passengers flying between Europe and Asia, insisting that the women were only in Danish air space for the few minutes it took to fly over the small Scandinavian country.
I think the claim that the women were only briefly in Danish airspace is only a cover for the true issue: money. This sounds like just one more instance of a two-tiered pay scheme in which work is outsourced to 'foreign nationals' who are paid a lesser amount to do the same work as citizens of the carrier's home country. Last I knew, this was called exploitation.

The final day of the trial is scheduled for March 17, with a verdict expected about a week later, a judicial source told the news media.

Friday, January 18, 2008

BA cabin crew praised for post-crash evacuation

Crew of British Airways Flight 38The cabin crew of the British Airways B-777 that crash landed at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) on January 17 are being praised for their quick action and professionalism in initiating and carrying out the evacuation of the aircraft.

Pictured at right are the senior crew members from BA Flight 38. From left to right, senior First Officer John Coward, who was the pilot flying at the time of the incident; Captain Peter Burkill, pilot in command; and Cabin Service Director Sharron Eaton-Mercer, the senior cabin crew member on the flight.

The photo was taken at a press conference, during which Capt. Burkill said:

"I want to pay tribute to the cabin crew and Cabin Service Director Sharron Eaton-Mercer who carried out the evacuation of the passengers with speed, efficiency and care, some incurring minor injuries in the process.

It was typical of Sharon's selflessness that she took time to check that we on the flight deck were all right before going down the chute herself."
The cabin crew were praised as well by British Airways CEO Willie Walsh. A number of passengers who had been on board BA Flight 38 also commented publicly that the cabin crew had remained calm and had quickly evacuated all the passengers in an orderly fashion.

The incident that resulted in the crash landing occurred very late in the flight, while the aircraft was on short finals. The flight deck crew had not been able to warn the cabin crew before the aircraft hit the ground. The cabin crew reportedly initiated the unplanned evacuation as soon as the aircraft came to a rest.

The United Kingdom's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a preliminary report on the accident, excerpts of which have been posted on the Professional Pilot News blog. The report noted "minor" injuries to four of the crew. The report also notes that nine passengers also sustained injuries: eight classified as "minor" and one "serious." This is in contrast to press reports that had said there were no serious injuries.

The AAIB investigation is continuing.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

British Airways crash landing and evacuation at Heathrow

A British Airways flight arriving at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) from Beijing crash landed at LHR early this afternoon, local time. There were 136 passengers and 16 crew on board the B777-236ER, operating as BA Flight 38. No one was seriously injured, but the aircraft was severely damaged. There was no fire.

Early reports suggest that the aircraft lost power on final approach. The aircraft landed hard on the grass inside the airport's perimeter fence, and skidded several hundred meters before coming to a stop near the threshold of runway 27L. All passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft using emergency slides. There were reports of minor injuries to several people.

Several news media outlets interviewed passengers who were on the flight. They said there was no warning from the crew, and that most people did not realize that the plane had landed short of the runway until it had come to a stop. The cabin crew carried out the unplanned evacuation immediately, and without further incident.

Click here to view a video of a BBC News interview with some passengers from BA Flight 38.

Mr. Willie Walsh, the CEO of British Airways, praised the crew's actions in a statement to the press. Part of his statement is included in this video posted on YouTube by the Associated Press.



(If the video does not play or display properly, click here to view it on YouTube.)

Congratulations to the crew of BA Flight 38 for a job well done.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New uniform for easyJet cabin crew introduced

easyJet Cabin CrewCabin crew members for easyJet, Europe's fourth largest airline, are wearing new uniforms. What's most interesting about the uniforms is that they were designed by crew members.

The new designs represent the winning entry in a design competition among the crew members who will be wearing the uniforms. There were hundreds of entries, narrowed down to three for the final competition. Cabin crew at easyJet then voted for their favorite among the three.

The smart new uniforms, designed by easyJet crew members AnnMarie Cuffe, Joanne Todd and Kurt Wilson, replace easyJet's well known casual black pants and orange polo shirt outfit. Now crew members can select from among a number of different pieces such as orange or white shirts, jackets or waistcoats, and mix and match the pieces to suit their own style and comfort needs.

For more photos of the new easyJet uniforms, visit the easyJet Photo Gallery on the company's website.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Air France cabin crew set to strike

Air France logoThe unions representing Air France cabin crew have called for a five-day walkout from Thursday, October 25 through Monday, October 29. The unions have called the strike over pay and working conditions.

The unions are pressing for a renegotiation of their labor contract, noting that some salaries have been frozen for 10 years. The current contract agreement expires at the end of 2007.

Yesterday Air France said in a press release about the cabin crew strike that their entire long-haul fleet will be operating during the strike, but that the airline was "obliged to plan for disruptions to our flight schedule, and in particular to our short and medium-haul services (France and Europe)."

UPDATE October 26, 2007: According to an article on Forbes.com, Air France has said it will sue the unions representing its cabin crews for non-compliance with rules governing strikes., and will ask for damages for losses arising from the workers' ongoing strike.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pay raise for Air Berlin cabin crew

Air Berlin logoCabin crew at Air Berlin, Europe's third largest low cost carrier, will get a 3% pay increase on Jan. 1, 2008 and a 2.8% raise in 2009. The Air Berlin cabin crew are represented by the Ver.di labor union.

According to an article about the Air Berlin agreement published by the Bloomberg new service, "The airline, pilots and cabin crews reached the first labor contracts in the company's 29-year history in August, based on current wages and conditions."

The raises apply to employees of the original Air Berlin and to those at the Dba unit, Steffen Kuehhirt, a spokesman at Ver.di's Berlin headquarters, said by phone today. The increases may be subject to "small" changes depending on inflation.

The union plans to start negotiations with Air Berlin about setting up a works council representing cabin crews, Kuehhirt said.
An Air Berlin spokesman said the airline agreed to raise wages by the inflation rate plus 1 percent.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Icelandair cabin crew: No overtime

Icelandair logoIcelandair's cabin crew have agreed to show solidarity with the airline's pilots by refusing to work overtime. According to a news report from Reykjavik, members of the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFÍ) met on September 10th to discuss the issue.

“There is a great solidarity within the group,” head of FFÍ Sigrún Jónsdóttir told Morgunbladid, adding there had been a good atmosphere during yesterday’s meeting. About 160 of 605 cabin crew workers listed at Icelandair attended the meeting.

Jónsdóttir said FFÍ members had discussed possible counter measurements with Icelandair’s board for those who have not been made redundant, like being offered a vacation, paid or unpaid, or reduced working hours between December and March.
Some Icelandair flights were canceled earlier this week because of the wage dispute between the pilots and the airline management.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New labor agreement for KLM cabin crew

The union (VNC) representing Dutch cabin crew at KLM agreed to accept a new collective labor agreement (CAO). Although the VNChad rejected the agreement twice before, the union now says that the new CAO is the best possible agreement at this time.

Quoting Dutch industry sources, an article about the new agreement on Forbes.com says:

The CAO includes a wage rise of 6.5 pct and the possibility for cabin staff to fly on four types of planes, while a study will also be conducted into the amount of stress cabin crew undergo while on the job, the website reported.

However, cabin crew are no longer allowed to fly while pregnant, after a KLM study indicated that doing so could have undesirable health effects.
KLM, AKA Royal Dutch Airlines, is now a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM group.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Were Flybe cabin crew sickened by fumes in aircraft cabin?

Two cabin crew members became violently ill and collapsed during a recent Flybe flight on a BAe 146 aircraft between Birmingham, England and George Best Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland. The Transport and General Workers' Union, which represents Flybe's cabin crew, says the crew members' illness was caused by a "toxic gas" in the aircraft cabin. The union is calling for an investigation.

A news article about the incident in the Belfast Telegraph quotes union officials who say this was "the latest in a number of potentially disastrous mid-air incidents in which crew members working for various airlines have become dangerously ill during flights."

Campaigners who believe the incidents are due to deadly toxins from jet engine oil contaminating the air supply have warned that the 'fuming' incidents are putting the long-term health of crew and passengers at risk and are also in danger of causing a major air catastrophe if pilots become incapacitated.

Details have emerged in a CAA report into a terrifying episode last month on board the Flybe jet.

Passengers on board the BAe 146 plane flying into Belfast from Birmingham were completely unaware of the drama at the rear of the aircraft, and of the fears of other terrified cabin crew that they may not have been able to deal with an emergency with incapacitated staff.

Dessie Henderson, senior organiser of the Transport and General Workers' Union in Belfast, says it's just one of an increasing number of 'fuming' incidents which are feared to be leaving airline staff and passengers facing possible long-term health problems due to so-called "aerotoxic syndrome".
Mr. Henderson went on to say, "There have been numerous incidents and they can't continue to go unexplained when the health and safety of the cabin crews and the passengers on board the planes are at stake. If these incidents are down to organophosphates, then that is what the airlines need to be carrying out checks for, to see if their staff and our members have been exposed to it."

While declining to comment on the specific incident, a spokesman for Flybe said that all of the company's aircraft are manufactured and maintained to the highest industry standards.
"Any incidents involving sickness experienced by cabin crew, flight crew or passengers are taken very seriously by the company, with appropriate medical support always provided.

"The statistically very small occurrences of on-board sickness indicate that our systems and processes are robust and more than meet all CAA regulatory demands.

"Flybe are at the leading edge of co-operative joint research in this area and are comfortable that our expertise marks us out as industry leaders."
The UK The Government's Committee on Toxicity is said to be examining the threat from contaminated cabin air.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lufthansa's economy 'Sleepers Class' idea for long-haul routes

Get a load of this: German flag carrier Lufthansa is exploring the idea of an all-sleeper configuration for economy-class cabins on long-haul flights, according to an article on FlightGlobal.com. The airline reportedly has sent an email survey to some customers asking their opinion about this concept:

The airline has generated a conceptual image of the proposed ‘Sleepers Class’ cabin, showing a possible arrangement featuring fully lie-flat bunks stacked three-high in a herringbone layout on either side of the cabin, with additional berths in a wide central aisle.

Star Alliance member Lufthansa is considering the sleeper-cabin for specific intercontinental services – possibly overnight flights, such as those to Johannesburg, Sao Paulo and Shanghai – although the carrier says that it has not progressed to the stage of examining potential specific routes.

Under the scheme a passenger would opt to book a bed for the flight rather than a regular economy-class seat. It is unclear whether the beds would convert from a seating layout.

A spokeswoman for Lufthansa confirms that the airline is formally looking into the idea, and running a customer survey, although she adds: “Of course there’s no final decision yet. There are, as such, no certain plans whether or not to realise an idea like this.”
Looks sorta like an airborne bunkhouse or hostel to me. Would passengers like to be stowed on multiple layers like that? It might add a whole new dimension to all the jokes about pax as 'SLF' (Self-Loading Freight).

I have to admit that one of the first thoughts that popped into my head when I saw the photo was what the implications would be for an emergency evacuation. Other safety-related questions come to mind as well. Do the berths convert to upright seats for takeoff and landing? And what if a passenger fell from an upper berth during turbulence?

What do you think?

[Photo Source]

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Flight attendant crowned Miss Northern Ireland

Low fare carrier Jet2.com is proud of cabin crew member Melissa Patton, who recently was selected as Miss Northern Ireland. An announcement on the Jet2.com website says:

19 year old Melissa Patton joined the company in 2006 and has been wowing our customers ever since and always been a winner in their eyes. We would like to wish her huge congratulations on this fantastic achievement.

Melissa rose through the ranks of the competition to be crowned Miss Northern Ireland on Monday evening and was presented with a tiara and sash from current Miss World. Besides picking up the title, Melissa, from Belfast, is now entered in to the Miss World pageant, held in China, on 1st December 2007.

So keep your fingers crossed for our girl and look out for her on your flight soon!
In an interview for the Belfast Telegraph, Miss Patton was asked, "How does [being Miss Northern Ireland] compare to your day job as an air hostess?" Her reply:
I've been working with Jet2 for nearly two years now and I think it's provided me with a really good background for my role as Miss Northern Ireland.

An important part of being an air hostess is grooming and presentation - that comes from having to have hair and make-up sorted for those 4am starts. I'm well used to early starts and meeting and greeting members of the public.

I'm also very punctual. The plane doesn't wait for you if you're not there.

Although I did my A levels in media studies, English literature and religious education, I didn't want to go to university. It was actually through an advert in the Belfast Telegraph that I applied for my job. I sent away my CV and cover letter to Jet2 for an interview and was recruited.
The interviewer also asked the new Miss Northern Ireland what she thought of the "size zero debate." She said:
I think young girls need more responsible role models than some of the women currently in the media. They need real life women who eat and have curves. I'm totally against size zero - young girls should not feel that they have to be a size they are naturally are not meant to be. It's not healthy.
Good luck to Melissa Patton in the upcoming Miss World competition.

[Photo Source]

Friday, May 25, 2007

Swedish cabin crew strike at SAS

Just a month ago, cabin crew working for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in Denmark walked out in "wildcat strike," causing a disruption in flight service. Today it is the Swedish cabin crew who are striking after talks between their union and SAS management broke down.

An Associated Press article about the strike, published in the Houston Chronicle and elsewhere, says:

Last week, the Swedish Salaried Employees' Union threatened to call the strike by 800 of its members unless agreement was reached in negotiations on achieving better working conditions. SAS, in turn, had warned it would impose a lockout if cabin staff went on strike.

Negotiations between the 160,000-member union and employers broke down during the night, and no new talks were planned. "The negotiations are stuck," the airline said in statement.

SAS Sweden said the strike would cost some $3 million a day in lost ticket sales. The Swedish unit has 2,500 staff and flies 6 million passengers a year to more than 50 domestic and international destinations.
The airline has canceled 300 flights today, affecting 20,000 passengers, and said it would cancel up to 150 on Saturday, according to news reports.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lufthansa cabin crew to get pay increase

Bloomberg News is reporting that Lufthansa has agreed to include 15,000 flight attendants in a pay raise package. The announcement comes from Lufthansa employee union Ver.di:

The flight attendants will receive a 3.4 percent increase, which the airline had already agreed to apply to ground personnel, from July 1, Ver.di said in a faxed statement. Lufthansa spokeswoman Stefanie Stotz said negotiations are ongoing and declined to comment further when contacted by Bloomberg News.

Ver.di said Feb. 17 the 3.4 percent pay-raise agreement it negotiated for 27,000 ground-crew workers also applied to 15,000 flight attendants it represents. Lufthansa argued that cabin crews are already covered by a May 2005 contract with the UFO flight attendants' union providing raises of at least 2.5 percent as of January 2007 and lasting through December 2008.
Recent disagreements between Lufthansa and its cabin crew have been contentious, recently causing several disruptions in flight service as cabin crews in Berlin stopped work to demand higher wages.

[Photo Source]