Finnair set for final stage of pilot talks

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Finnair is working to a September deadline as it bids to flesh out a new deal with pilots in continuing efforts to restructure labour costs.

Talks with Finnair cabin crew have already broken down after failing to secure €18 million ($24 million) in savings, prompting the airline last month to confirm plans to outsource flight attendants on around 20 of its flights.

“We have gone through the legal and formal process in Finland with regards to cabin crew, and we will take steps towards outsourcing fairly soon now,” says Finnair chief executive Pekka Vauramo.

“We have said there will be several long-haul routes that we’ll do the outsourcing and certain European routes we’ll add to that. So that’s going to be around 20 different routes over the next two years we’ll outsource. We are currently negotiating with all the suppliers about this.”

Under the outsourcing plan, 540 positions would be cut – out of the roughly 1,500 cabin crew.

“With pilots, we do have a September deadline to reach the agreement. We made some progress earlier year with pilots, but we were not able to model in a similar way the impact of the labour agreement,” says Vauramo. Work on this has since been ongoing from both sides and is near completion, and the final stage of negotiations is about to begin.

“We are very dedicated to reach the new level. It is really crucial for us and our competitiveness,” he says.

Outsourcing and the sale of non-core parts of the business have changed Finnair Group sharply over recent years – cutting a one-time staffing level of 13,000 to fewer than 5,000 today – and more direct jobs are going with the outsourcing of cabin crew on some routes. “But we are starting to see the limit on this,” says Vauramo. “We have transformed from traditional carrier group to an airline that has its core business in operating the fleet. We are much leaner.”