French pilots and flight attendants are reportedly threatening to strike over retirement benefits in the run-up to school holidays with Unac Union reportedly stating it was giving notice for the strike to the Prime Minister's Office and the Transport Ministry (La Tribune, 02-Feb-2011). Unac’s move follows a notice by SNPL Alpa for a strike from 04-Mar-2011 through 07-Mar-2011, a school-vacation weekend.
French pilots and flight attendants plan strikes
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US airlines hold tense contract talks: straining labour relations as pilots demand market pay rates
Just as the magnet of airline profitability is attracting investors, the same magnetic fields are proving to be irresistible forces for labour. As a consequence, some major US airlines remain bogged down in contentious labour negotiations that have resulted in a swarm of negative publicity for those companies. The management teams of airlines such as Southwest Airlines and Delta are attempting to navigate the conclusion of labour deals that offer fair compensation and benefits to employees, while at the same time making declarations to shareholders and investors about a transformed industry delivering consistent and record profits.
The continuing labour turbulence for Delta, Southwest and Hawaiian reflects the impatience of employees, anxious not to be left behind as airline profits grow. Those airlines face the challenge of negotiating contracts that reward labour for its contribution to stable profitability, while also ensuring that the productivity in those agreements creates a minimum level of cost inflation.
Stakes are high for both management and labour in the current round of contract negotiations, which means that collective bargaining could drag on for many months. As airline executives continue to reiterate their desire to reach new contracts, labour’s rhetoric for market rate pay is growing stronger.
(Note: this report was compiled prior Southwest Airlines reaching a tentative agreement with management on 29-Aug-2016)
North American airlines reduce CASK in 2015 thanks to lower fuel, but ominous labour cost trends
North America’s large major global network airlines enjoyed significant unit cost reductions for the full year 2015, according to CAPA's CASK Database, as average fuel cost per barrel remained at record lows for most of the calendar year. The decline in fuel costs in some instances helped to offset a challenging apparent trend in increasing salaries, wages and benefits, and profit-sharing expense.
Favourable fuel cost trends for those airlines should continue into 2016 as fuel costs per barrel for both WTI and Brent Crude are projected to fall year-on-year compared with 2015. For what forecasts are worth, fuel prices are projected to begin climbing in 2017; however, prices will remain far below 2014, when prices averaged over USD90 per barrel.
Falling full costs have helped lower the unit cost trend line year-on-year for global full service airlines, but, along with fuel cost inflation starting in 2017, some North American global network airlines will also face rising labour costs. Delta is in the process of pilot negotiations, United’s has agreed up to 31% increases for its flight attendants and is still in negotiations with its mechanics. Depending on the outcomes of the pilot negotiations and mechanics votes, Delta and United will face inflationary labour cost pressure during the next two years.