Cabin crew strike to tip Finnair into operational loss

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Industrial action by Finnair cabin crew will pitch the airline into an operational loss for the full year, the carrier has warned.

Finnair's dismal outlook follows the breakdown of negotiations aimed at averting a strike by the Finnish cabin crew union SLSY scheduled to begin at 13:00 today.

The airline says the direct loss to the business will amount to €2-2.5 million ($2.6-3.3 million) daily, from lost bookings and costs arising from other arrangements.

Efforts by a national conciliator failed to bring the union and the carrier's management to an agreement. SLSY has confirmed the strike will proceed.

"The positions of the employees and the employers on terms and conditions of employment are too far from each other," says Finnair customer services chief Anssi Komulainen.

Finnair claims union proposals to change the collective agreement for cabin crew will raise costs by more than 20%, owing to more off-duty periods and fewer available personnel.

"We are seeking to improve work productivity and to lower unit costs," says the airline. "If a new agreement increases costs levels, it is clear that we will have to look for new solutions for cabin work."

At the nine-month point the carrier had posted an operational profit of €2 million and Finnair was expecting to maintain profitability by the year-end.

Finnair admits a "large proportion" of its services will be cancelled today. The strike also affects Blue1 operations.

It will maintain some domestic connections as well as links to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, London,

Paris and Brussels. Finnair will also operate daily to Bangkok and the carrier says it will make "every effort" to keep its leisure flight programme in place.