From Iceland — Fraught Negotiations Continue Between Icelandair And Flight Attendants

Fraught Negotiations Continue Between Icelandair And Flight Attendants

Published May 19, 2020

Photo by
Arpingstone / Wikimedia Commons

Representatives from Icelandair and the Iceland Aviation Association will meet again tonight at 17:00 to attempt to secure a wage agreement for flight crew, RÚV reports.

Icelandair’s previous proposal was to increase flight attendants’ hours but keep their salary the same. Flight attendants rejected this plan, arguing that it means a 40% pay cut – a claim Icelandair’s CEO Bogs Nils Bogason refutes.

Last week Icelandair reached a wage agreement with representatives of pilots and aircraft operators (pending union members’ approval). But negotiations with flight attendants are proving tougher. Tonight’s meeting follows an 11-hour-long negotiation with the help of a state mediator yesterday and 14 hours of informal talks on Sunday.

Pressure is mounting for Icelandair as officials hope to secure a long-term wage agreement before a crucial shareholders’ meeting on Friday, May 22nd. The airline hopes to raise 29 billion ISK in new share capital through a public stock offering in June. This stock offering can only go ahead with the approval of shareholders.

As reported, Iceland is preparing for an influx of tourists from June 15th when the government plans to bring in COVID-19 screenings at Keflavik airport. The re-opening of the country puts flight attendants in a better bargaining position.

The success of wage negotiations and the upcoming public stock offering are vital for Icelandair’s survival. The airline has been facing severe financial difficulties, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Icelandic government has provided loans to ensure minimum air transport continues, the state is not prepared to step in to save Icelandair from bankruptcy. The airline’s only hope is drastic financial restructuring.

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