Brussels Airlines regrets announced strike despite new negotiation talks
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 -The union delegation representing the pilot community of Brussels Airlines has called for strike actions on Monday May 14th and Wednesday May 16th. These actions will affect over 60,000 passengers - holidaymakers, commuters and business travellers. Information about the flights is available at brusselsairlines.com and will continuously be updated.
Brussels Airlines deeply regrets that strike actions triggered by its social partners representing the airline’s pilot community are causing massive disruptions in Monday’s and Wednesday’s flight operations.
The strike will impact Brussels Airlines flights to and from Brussels on May 14th and May 16th. 278 flights to and from Brussels were scheduled on Monday and 279 flights on Wednesday, with respectively 34,000 and 29,000 passengers booked.
“Despite the fact that we do everything we can to reduce the inconveniences to our guests to a minimum, the strike severely impacts the travel plans of our customers, for which we wish to sincerely apologise. We have mobilized a maximum of staff and have increased the capacity of our Service Center to assist our guests as much as possible with rebooking”, explains Thibault Demoulin, Chief Operating Officer of Brussels Airlines. “From Brussels Airlines’ point of view, the strike is incomprehensible, since the company has submitted substantial offers to the cockpit union delegation”, continues Thibault Demoulin.
Priority is given to the stranded guests
Significant disruptions to the flight operations are to be expected during the days of the strike.
Passengers booked on a flight on Monday or Wednesday can rebook their flight free of charge or cancel their reservation at no extra charge with a full refund. Guests who are stranded at their destination will be offered maximum care, including hotel accommodation, alternative travel options on Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa Group airlines or other available carriers.
Brussels Airlines customers can find information about their bookings and changes to the flight timetable on www.brusselsairlines.com.
Customers who have provided their contact details will be notified of changes to their flight by Brussels Airlines via text message and email. Brussels Airlines advises all customers with a booking within the strike period to check the status of their flight via www.brusselsairlines.com before coming to the airport. In case the flight is cancelled, Brussels Airlines recommends not to proceed to the airport but to contact the Brussels Airlines Service Center or, in case the flight was booked via a (online) travel agency, to contact their agency.
New conciliation process to start
A first proposal of a flexible benefit plan, that foresaw as of January 1st, 2019 an increase of 3% of the pilot’s monthly gross salary and an additional 3% as of 2020 should there be no growth, had been refused by the pilots.
Today, in order to give a new chance to the negotiations, the management of Brussels Airlines had made a new proposal for its pilots. Indeed, following latest discussions among Brussels Airlines management, union representatives and pilots, all parties involved came to the conclusion that the past weeks and months the focus in the negotiations was too much on salary increase rather than on the improvement of work-life balance, which seems to be the predominant concern of the pilot community.
The purpose was now to reinforce the already established working group on flight-time/duty-time (workload) in order to come with concrete proposals. With the feedback received, the management has decided to put extra resources into this working group and re-allocate part of the foreseen funds to the improvement of rosters and holiday planning.
The management of Brussels Airlines proposed to finalize a concrete planning listing all the initiatives, to speed up the process. To cover the implementation period of a new to be agreed proposal, intermediate compensation measures are being worked on, which can be implemented in the short run.
“We deeply regret the refusal of our new offer that focuses on the main concern of our pilots – an improved work-life balance. We know that this is the most important to them”, explains Christina Foerster, CEO of Brussels Airlines. “We are also worried about the process as our social partners announced a strike even before the new conciliation process has started. It goes without saying that we remain open for transparent and constructive dialogue as we continue aiming at a solution that on the one hand responds to the concerns of our pilots and on the other hand doesn’t put the future of our company at stake. The union delegation continues to propose the same 12 points, which represent a total increase in cost of 25% for the company. It would be irresponsible for the future of our company and its 3900 employees to accept this.”