EasyJet is still hopeful it may be able to strike lifestyle-benefit labour deals with some of its pilots in mainland Europe despite failing to agree such a long-term agreement with UK pilots.

The low-cost carrier has been talking to UK pilots body BALPA about a four-year deal which would have included improved roster patterns for its pilots.

"The negotiations have gone on for a long time and the reason for that is they are very complex," explained EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall during the airline's recent first half results conference call.

"The proposal was to give pilots lifestyle benefits, so a much better roster pattern." The proposal involved switching to a five/four day split roster. "In order to do that and to get that right, we needed that to be funded," says McCall

"The reason I understand the deal has not been accepted is it's four years, it's quite complex, and quite ambitious. I think it's disappointing," she adds. "The five/four would have helped us with flexibility, but it certainly would have been beneficial for pilots.

"I think there were issues around how that pay was structured. We've worked really hard trying to move our position, we just cannot do any more on it because if we do, any gains we get from flexibility, we would be paying out in cash." She adds relations remain constructive with its pilots and that talks will now go back to a regular pay deal.

BALPA general secretary Jim McAuslan similarly points to the scale of the project. "This deal was one of the most ambitious BALPA has ever been involved in and has been in negotiation for the last nine months. It has been rejected by our members and we are currently consulting with them to drill down to see where the stumbling blocks lie and how they can be addressed," he says. "We will be tabling those concerns with management at the earliest opportunity and we trust that they will engage positively with them."

The airline though is hopeful there may be demand for similar lifestyle deals from its pilots elsewhere in Europe. "The circumstances in every market are different," says McCall. "I think a lot of pilots do want lifestyle benefits, so it depends on if they are willing to help fund those lifestyle benefits in those markets."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news