From Iceland — Icelandair To Increase Automation and Equality

Icelandair To Increase Automation and Equality

Published November 21, 2019

Lea Müller
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons

Icelandair plans to increase automation and gender equality, Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO of Icelandair and Managing Director Elísabet Helgadóttir said in an interview with Vísir.

The Automation Process

“The passenger will do much more by himself in the future”, Bogi says, and the check-in process is to be automatised further. Hence, jobs at the airline will change accordingly. What the changes will look like exactly, he doesn’t say, but he seeks to emphasise that there are still good job prospects at Icelandair, due to the long-term growth expected in the aviation sector.

Yet the measures which the company is taking reflect their need to improve performance. The company encountered significant losses over the summer when their Boeing’s 737 MAX jets were grounded. In March 2019, aviation authorities worldwide grounded the model after two new machines from other airlines crashed within five months.

Stepping up the gender-equality

Aside from the restructuring of the check-in process, the company further plans to improve their gender equality. By 2025, Icelandair wants to increase the number of female pilots and male flight attendants, both by 25 percent, Vísir reports. According to Elísabet, they also work towards a gender equal management and have made significant progress over the previous decade. “It is proven that diversity in the workplace results in better decision-making,” she explained in the interview. Today, there are 40% women on the board of directors and three out of the eight executives are female.

Further, staff uniforms and the stereotypes they enforce are to be reconsidered. Female flight attendants can now choose whether they want to wear high-heels and apply make-up. Nevertheless, the loosening of the dress code should not compromise the elegance and professional look of the employees, Elísabet emphasises.

What’s to consider

Some questions remain. On the dress-code issue, it will be interesting to see whether the measures will also include an option for female flight attendants to wear pants. The stockings they wear under skirts are known to be highly inflammable. Thus it’s not only a matter of gender equality but also of safety, to revise the practicality of the uniforms under this aspect.

Lastly, the check-in process is already extremely automated; someone traveling with hand-luggage will, after doing the online check-in, only encounter Icelandair personnel when boarding the plane. It seems fair to ask if automation won’t potentially affect the flight attendants, too, in the long run, if the company keeps looking for ways to save money.

On the bottom line, however, it seems reasonable to make the effort to reduce costs now, instead of waiting and running into deeper financial trouble ultimately.

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