Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

International News

Ryanair Agrees To Recognise Pilot Unions

In what many in the industry hailed as a significant victory, Ryanair finally announced that it would change its long standing policy of not recognising unions. 

The decision was made, the company said “…in order to avoid any threat of disruption to its customers and its flights from pilot unions during Christmas week.”

This led to the unions, who represented a number of pilots working for Europe’s largest low-cost airline, to call off a planned strike for Wednesday, 20 December.

Ryanair announced that it had written to the pilot unions in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, inviting each of them to talks to recognise these unions as the representative body for pilots in Ryanair in each of these countries.

The invitation said the airline would do this “as long as (the unions) establish Committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues, as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere.”

Ryanair then asked the pilot unions to call off the threatened industrial action “so that our customers can look forward to travelling home for Christmas without the threat or worry of pilot strikes hanging over them.”

In a statement, the airlines’ CEO Michael O’Leary said:

“Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week.

If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so, and we have written today to these unions inviting them to talks to recognise them and calling on them to cancel the threatened industrial action planned for Christmas week.

Recognising unions will be a significant change for Ryanair….Putting the needs of our customers first, and avoiding disruption to their Christmas flights, is the reason why we will now deal with our pilots through recognised national union structures and we hope and expect that these structures can and will be agreed with our pilots early in the New Year.”

2017 The Safest Year In Aviation History

In good news for the industry and nervous travellers, the UK’s  Telegraph reported that 2017 was markedly the safest year in aviation history. 

It reported that there were just 10 fatal accidents involving commercial flights last year, resulting in 44 deaths.  This is down from 16 fatal accidents and 302 deaths in 2016.  None of the fatalities in 2017 involved a passenger jet.

Harro Ranter, the president of the Aviation Safety Network (ASN) said “Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for the great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization], IATA [International Air Transport Association], the Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry.”

Read the full story >

Latest on Cathay Pacific industrial issues and budget cuts

Potential disruption to travel was on many people’s minds during the festive season.   Luckily for travellers on Cathay Pacific, this was deliberately avoided by the union who represents 90 per cent of Cathay’s pilots.

However, the South China Morning Post reported, the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA), were “poised to act if Hong Kong’s flagship airline imposed new terms without their consent.” 

Several days before Christmas, union member pilots had overwhelmingly approved proposals to lay the groundwork to ramp up an industrial dispute should cost-saving negotiations fail and began raising funds as an insurance against the potentially costly action.

The union said that 87 per cent of its members who voted approved plans to prepare for future industrial “escalation”.

The South China Morning Post also reported that the airline’s most senior pilots were still “seething” after being overlooked for the company’s traditional end-of-year bonus. The omission further aggravated pilots, with 400 cockpit crew signing a letter of dissent rebuking management.

Chris Beebe, the union’s general secretary, said of the vote: “The result of this vote is no surprise. We have seen plummeting lows in goodwill between Cathay Pacific and our membership as we reach the end of 2017.”

The airline had earlier attempted to axe a HK$900 million (US$115.3 million) accommodation payment scheme to 1,000 senior cockpit crews worth up to HK$100,000 a month each, but reversed its decision as union talks stalled.

It was also reported that housing cost cuts were part of Cathay’s earlier efforts to get its 3,200 pilots to accept pay freezes and changes in pension benefits to help slash HK$1 billion from its expenses.

The airline was seeking a 10 per cent reduction by 2019 through a pay freeze, unspecified pension changes and productivity improvements.

During the airline negotiations, the union offered HK$1.4 billion worth of cost savings, however, the savings would be pared back and some perks reinstated if the airline’s profitability improved.

As part of the preparations for an industrial escalation, 82 per cent of pilots voted to pay into a union war chest fund to give financial help to any members affected by future disciplinary action. Based on the seniority of pilots, members would be charged HK$100 to HK$500 per month until the special fees are cancelled.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier is working through making HK$4 billion in cost cuts over three years, which included 600 job cuts so far. It lost HK$2.05 billion in the first half of 2017, after a full-year loss of HK$575 million in 2016.

The full story can be viewed here > 

The Search For Flight MH370 Resumes

After a hiatus, Malaysian nation newspaper, The Star, reported that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is set to resume.  A U.S. exploration company Ocean Infinity Limited has signed a contract with the Malaysian Government on a “no find, no-fee” deal.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014 on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.  No sign of the plane was found during an Australian-led search over a 122,000 sq km area in the Indian Ocean.  The search was suspended in January 2017.

Since this search, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released a report in October last year, identifying an area of approximately 25,000 square kilometres to the west of Australia as the most likely location of the aircraft.

The US firm will restart the search for the plane in the middle of January 2018.

Read the full story >

Air New Zealand again the World’s Best Airline

Forbes reported in January on the highly anticipated list of the best airlines for 2018 once more leading with our national carrier Air New Zealand for the fifth consecutive year.

In compiling the list, AirlineRatings.com, an aviation safety and product rating site, considered key factors including: fleet age, passenger review ratings, profitability, investment rating and key product offering such as seating options in other classes, and also operation safety.

In explaining the choices, AirlineRatings.com said, “Air New Zealand is being honoured for the fifth consecutive year for its continued record-breaking financial performance, in-flight innovations, environmental leadership, young fleet and motivations of its staff. These factors have stamped the airline as an industry trendsetter.”

This year, none of the top 10 carriers were based in the Americas and the list only included one European airline, Virgin Atlantic.

Forbes reported that the list contains carriers mainly from the Asia-Pacific region, signalling a shift in aviation towards this part of the world.  Given the projected growth in this market, it is likely that this trend will continue in the coming decades.

The full top 10 list, and the winners of discrete categories can be viewed here >

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