nicholas Ionides / Singapore and David Learmount / London

As US airlines secure new agreements, European and Asian carriers are latest to face threat of strike action

Industrial strife in pilot workforces is hitting airlines worldwide, as many carriers approach the peak traffic season, while others are beginning to feel the effects of the economic downturn.

In Europe, following the major dispute at Lufthansa, the threat of actual pilot action faces Alitalia, Iberia and LOT Polish Airlines.

In the USA, Delta Airlines is nearing the end of a damaging period of strikes affecting it and regional partner Comair.

On 22 June Comair pilots were due to vote on whether to accept the latest contract proposals after rejecting two previous offers. The latest offer, which would make Comair pilots the highest paid in the regional industry, would increase pilot salaries by 19.6% immediately and eventually by almost 50%.

Delta mainline pilots, meanwhile, have accepted pay increases from 24-39%.

In Asia, Asiana and KAL were the first affected by strikes launched on 12 June over working conditions and pay rises.

The KAL pilot strike forced hundreds of flight cancellations over three days, but was resolved by freezing foreign-pilot recruitment from 31 December and giving pilots seats on a flight safety committee.

Flight crew at All Nippon Airways called off a 24h strike due on the 20 June at the last moment. The same day Japan Air System pilots called a one-day strike and grounded 40% of domestic flights, but a strike by Japan Air Lines pilots and staff was not well supported and had little effect.

At Cathay, which announced record profits for 2000, the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA) has voted to launch "limited industrial action" from1July.

After pilot action in 1999, many crew had accepted stock options and a new rostering system in return for pay cuts over a three-year period.

Now the HKAOA says it wants the third round of pay cuts due in July to be dropped, and the rostering deals fully implemented.

Asian carriers are warning of poor results this year due to a slowing of economic conditions.

Source: Flight International