British Airways and its cabin crew unions resumed negotiations over job cuts and pay freezes on 14-Oct-2009 (BBC News/Sky News, 14-Oct-2009). Unions have claimed the carrier is planning to announce another 1,300 job cuts, in addition to 1,700 voluntary cabin crew redundancies already secured. BA responded, stating the cuts are part of already announced plans to remove 3,700 jobs, in addition to the 2,500 cuts made between Jun-2008 and Mar-2009.
British Airways and cabin crew unions resume negotiations
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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).
Geopolitics defines much of Europe’s Uncertain outlook in 2017
Europe faces a growing range of geopolitical risks and uncertainties. These range from the presidential election in France and the federal elections in Germany to the UK’s (only) likely triggering of the formal process of leaving the European Union. Political instability in Italy and a general feeling of a move to populist politics raise a tendency towards protectionism and resistance to some of the core principles of the European Union.
They also include possible shifts in Russia’s relationship with the west under a Trump administration in the US. Indeed, Mr Trump’s presidency also raises questions over Europe’s own relationship with the US, notably his attitude towards free trade and to NATO.
The threat of terrorist activity remains real in Western Europe, where both Belgium and France were targeted in 2016. Turkey also suffered from frequent terrorist outrages and an attempted coup in 2016.
The civil war in Syria and an unstable political backdrop in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa have drawn in a number of European nations to a greater or lesser extent and contributed to an influx of refugees across Europe. The refugee crisis has fuelled wider concerns about immigration, adding to a climate of political anxiety.
Within Europe’s airline industry, lower fuel prices have provided a breathing space for the less efficient legacy airlines, but independent LCCs, long and short haul have meanwhile taken renewed strides to dominate across the market. Lufthansa and, in particular, Air France are serious laggards and enter 2017 under a dark cloud.