While several thousand Norwegians have been affected by canceled flights on their way to summer vacations, the Norwegian pilots have decided to terminate their current overtime agreement.
– We were not prepared for Parat’s decision to terminate the overtime agreement. This is an agreement we’ve had for many years, there is an attractive arrangement for both the pilots and cabin crew, as well as the airline, says communications director of Norwegian, Anne-Sissel Skånvik, to newspaper VG.
She believes the conflict could have been resolved internally without having affected the customers going on summer vacations.
– What is certain is that we can not hire more pilots in the summer than we have for jobs throughout the year, says Skånvik.
The company relies on an overtime agreement to have enough people at work in the busiest periods, such is the case in July. It was stated that this is not the sole cause of the cancellations.
– We also have pilots who have signed up for sick leave or unable to fly on very short notice. This has caused some customers to get the text message about the cancellation only a few hours before departure, says Skånvik.
– Our pilots had an agreement with the employer about purchasing holidays. The agreement was terminated because of a disagreement about its use by the employers, says the head of the trade union Parat, Hans-Erik Skjæggerud.
Many flights affected
At least 18 Norwegian-flights were canceled on short notice Saturday. It applied to both domestic and international flights, wrote Aftenposten. The company has not yet stated how many customers were affected by cancellations and delays.
– We are using all our resources on helping our customers and haven’t got the capacity to calculate the exact numbers of affected passengers at this time, says Skånvik to VG.
She stresses that Sunday looks better in terms of number of cancellations.
– They were warned
The pilot association believes the cancellations should come as no surprise to Norwegian.
– I warned the company several months ago that a shortage of pilots would occur before the summer season. I asked the leaders to hire more pilots, but it obviously has not happened. Instead, they sold tickets for a schedule knowing there was not enough staff to cover those flights, says Halvor Vatnar, union leader for pilots in Norwegian, to Aftenposten.
– I fear that this weekend’s events are only a warning that Norwegian may be forced to cancel more flights throughout the high season, because the flight program through the summer is very extensive, he adds.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today