Finnair employees question need for deep cost cuts
Airline gives staff choice of pay cuts or job cuts
Flight attendants of the Finnish airline Finnair have expressed surprise that the company’s proposal for pay cuts was discussed in public before personnel had been informed about the plan. Finnair staff suspect that the purpose of the pay cuts is to save money for the acquisition of new aircraft.
Mauri Koskenniemi, chair of the Finnish Cabin Crew Union (SLSY), says that it is a strange decision to make the company’s staff shoulder the cost of its feet investments.
Koskenniemi believes that the cost cutting programme announced on Thursday stems from the upcoming plane investments. The company wants to replace many of its old planes with new aircraft which consume less fuel.
“With its savings programme Finnair wants to convince its financiers that it is responsible, and knows how to take care of its finances”, Koskenniemi said in the online financial publication Taloussanomat.
The cost-cutting plans did not come as a surprise to Koskenniemi. The airline has been engaged in co-determination talks since the summer, aimed at agreeing on ways to save money.
Koskenniemi was nevertheless surprised by the severity of the programme. Finnair said that the options are either pay cuts or job cuts.
Koskenniemi rejects comparisons made with the 1990s, when Finnair froze the pay of personnel. “At that time there was a recession and unemployment.”
Koskenniemi also expressed amazement that Finnair wants to cut pay, while planning to hire 80 new flight attendants. The airline has also extended the contracts of fixed-term flight attendants until the spring.
The cost cuts did not come as a surprise to Finnair’s pilots. However, the details of the programme was a small shock.
“Since the summer it has been possible to predict that something like this was coming. I wouldn’t have expected such severe proposals”, says Pekka Puttonen, vice chairman of the Finnish Air Line Pilots Association.
Puttonen sees the savings programme as a reflection of the overall situation in the aviation industry.
“Our company is not in poor condition compared with others, but it is necessary to see to it that the company will not go into worse condition”, he says.
Finnnair is proposing a temporary cut in staff pay as an alternative to job losses. Employee organisations have two weeks to respond to the company’s savings programme.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnair presents personnel with hard choice (5.9.2008)