Cathay Pacific Airways’ flight attendants are reportedly considering strike action as a last resort to prevent a change in roster policy that allows some workers to accumulate overtime while others work as few as ten hours a month (CargoNewsAsia/South China Morning Post, 17-Mar-2010). The flight attendants' union stated the new guideline reduces the opportunity for industrious employees to work longer hours and receive a higher salary.
Cathay Pacific cabin crew considering an Easter strike over roster policy changes
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Disruption in the airline industry. It will happen sooner than we think: Part 1
There are two essential elements to the airline industry: flying aeroplanes and selling (and buying) seats. More technically this can be described as (1) operational; and (2) marketing and sales. There are other important activities, such as lobbying government to limit competition, and exploiting frequent flyer programmes, but those two are the core activities now facing disruption.
The former is unique to airlines, is uniquely regulated and engages massive governmental regulatory intervention, technical and economic. The marketing and sales activity has some aspects particular to aviation, but generally differs little from any other form of retail – except that most older airlines have tended to be particularly slow at learning the art.
This analysis reviews the nature and degree of disruption in each core area and what potential the future holds. In the regulatory area, China will be the big disruptor as it expands into its new global role; and technology and the associated rise in consumer empowerment will transform the process of buying and selling tickets. It will happen sooner than we expect.
Airline strikes: 2016 a peak year for Europe's legacy airlines. Wakeup time, as LCCs pick them off
Pilot strikes at Lufthansa. Again. A strike ballot among British Airways cabin crew. A guilty verdict for Air France workers who assaulted an executive during a union protest. These were all headlines in late Nov-2016, following Air France pilot and cabin crew strikes in summer 2016. Labour relations at Europe's three biggest legacy airline groups are an ongoing challenge.
A CAPA report in Jun-2016 highlighted the growing number of articles on CAPA's website mentioning the word 'strike'. It raised the possibility that if the rate continued through the year, 2016 could be the biggest year for strike-related articles since before the global financial crisis. With a little under a month still to go, this year has already comfortably passed this milestone.
To a large extent labour unrest grows as airline industry profits increase. However, rather than hoping for an industry downturn to reverse the rise in the cycle of strikes, airline CEOs are talking tough – a line long taken by IAG's Willie Walsh. Lufthansa's Carsten Spohr has said that taking on the pilots is "about the future of Lufthansa", noting that it has “no chance of survival" if it gives in to pay demands (Bloomberg, 24-Nov-2016).