Finnair has launched a consultation process with cabin crew ahead of the outsourcing of one third of its European operations to Flybe Nordic - a move which it admits will cut flight attendant numbers by up to 120.
The carrier announced in May that it had signed a memorandum of understanding for the transferral of 12 Embraer 190s to Flybe Nordic.
Finnish law has provisions for the reassignment of personnel under "business transfers", the airline says, but cabin crew unions have questioned whether leasing out aircraft satisfies the legal definition of such a transaction.
In a bid to avert industrial action the airline is therefore seeking 120 voluntary transfers, and will pursue a negotiated solution if insufficient numbers apply.
"We do not want to endanger the quality of our customer service by transferring personnel against their will, so we will propose transfers on a voluntary basis," says Anssi Komulainen, head of Finnair customer services.
"In case there are only few who want to transfer to Flybe, we have to start personnel negotiations on adjusting our cabin attendant personnel."
Finnair is aiming to reduce expenses by €140 million ($177 million) by 2014, including savings of €80 million this year. Its cost-cutting measures centre on rationalising European operations and have included discontinuing leases on four Airbus A320s and five E-170s.
The carrier recently settled a dispute with workers at Finnair Technical Services, who had staged wildcat strikes over the outsourcing of maintenance work to SR Technics.