Austrian Airlines (Vienna) and Tyrolean Airways (Innsbruck and Vienna) have met with stiff resistance and a possible strike from its unions on its recent proposals for a new contract and hopefully some labor peace. As a result, Tyrolean Airways has now withdrawn its offer for a new contract as previously reported. In addition, Tyrolean Airways will not be merged into Austrian Airlines. Lower cost Tyrolean Airways currently operates all aircraft (except one Boeing 777-200) for Austrian Airlines under the Austrian brand. The company has also decided not to pursue a replacement program for the Fokker jet aircraft due to this uncertain labor environment. The group issued this statement:
• Threat of industrial action or even a strike met with incomprehension
• Works Council considers the old collective wage agreement to be the basis for negotiations
• “Old collective wage agreement would lead into an economic dead end”
After ten months of negotiations the management of Tyrolean Airways has withdrawn its offer for a new Group collective wage agreement. Last Monday the Works Council responded to the presented offer by holding a general staff meeting and threatening industrial actions or even a strike – a total of 34 flights had to be cancelled, and almost 3,000 passengers were affected by the disruption of normal flight operations.
Moreover, at the first round of negotiations following the announcement of the offer, Karl Minhard, Chairman of the Works Council for the flight and cabin crew, declared that from his point of view the basis for negotiations is still the original collective wage agreement applying to the former flight staff of Austrian Airlines. In January, both parties had still defined the goal of reaching an agreement by May 31, 2014.
“We would not manage to achieve this under the prevailing circumstances, neither with respect to the timing or the contents”, says Klaus Froese, Managing Director of Tyrolean Airways. “The past cannot be the answer to an economically challenging future. The old collective wage agreement would lead us straight into an economic dead end”, he adds. As a reminder: for six consecutive years Austrian Airlines operated in the red. As of 2013 the company was again in the black, as a result of strict cost management and after the termination of the old collective wage agreement.
After consulting with the Executive Board of Austrian Airlines, the management of Tyrolean Airways decided to take the proposed solution off the agenda. “We have to remain punctual and reliable, especially when people are planning their summer vacations. Flight disruptions and cancellations are not acceptable for our customers”, Froese adds.
Thereby, for the time being, also the offer of merging Tyrolean Airways and Austrian Airlines is no longer under discussion. The management of Austrian Airlines does not believe it is an opportune time to make the potential investments of up to EUR 1 billion to replace the Fokker aircraft and expand long haul routes. This is because the former collective wage agreement does not provide a sound basis for such investments.
“We will now deliberate which options we have. Naturally my door remains open for serious negotiations about an economically viable Austrian Airlines”, Froese emphasizes.
The management remains confident with respect to the lawsuits filed by the trade union and the Works Council. The transfer of flight operations to Tyrolean was economically essential and also legally permissible.
Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. The Fokker 70s and 100s operated by Tyrolean Airways are not likely to replaced any time soon with this uncertainty. Fokker F.28 Mk. 0100 (Fokker 100) OE-LVC (msn 11446) arrives in Amsterdam.