One of the challenges for European airline executives, certainly by comparison with North America, for example, is the multiplicity of unions.
This, together with the fragmented nature of labour law, can make labour negotiations very complex for airlines with operations in more than one country. It can also provide opportunities for airline management to tap into pools of labour where costs are lowest and working practices are most flexible.
However, unions representing pilots and other civil aviation workers across Europe have tended to come together in opposition to such moves, branding them as a "race to the bottom".
Tightening global pilot supply has increased pilots' negotiating power in Europe, as evidenced by Ryanair's recognition of unions for collective bargaining. That said, pilot power has historically always been high at Air France, reflecting French industrial relations culture.
The nature of relationships between management and unions will always vary in European airlines. Nevertheless, particularly in areas such as safety, their long term interests should align.