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Norwegian, Icelandair make deals with pilots

Separate agreements are signed with a union in Iceland – and unions in Spain and Italy.

Norwegian has signed a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement with the Spanish pilot union SEPLA. Icelandair Group has also signed one, with the Icelandic Airline Pilots Association.

The separate deals iron out any potential disputes with pilots in the coming years and provide the airlines with more predictability and stability.

For Norwegian, the agreement is valid for two years and “represents an important step forward in one of the company’s most important markets,” the airline said.

Earlier this week, Norwegian also signed a collective bargaining agreement for its long-haul crews based in Italy.

Biggest market for staff
Spain is Norwegian’s second-largest market in passenger volume and the largest in number of staff. The carrier has 33 aircraft based in Spain this coming summer, and more operating bases than in all the Nordic countries put together.

Norwegian has eight operating bases in Spain, all of them year-round: Alicante, Barcelona (two bases: one short- and one long-haul), Gran Canaria, Madrid, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, and Tenerife South.

The company employs 2,190 people in Spain. Norwegian carried 8.46 million passengers in Spain in 2017, a 24% increase on the previous year.

“This agreement is very important for Norwegian as it lays the foundation for a continued fruitful relationship between our staff and management, which is crucial to the group’s future growth,” explained Helga Bollmann Leknes, Norwegian Group’s chief human resources officer.

Martin Stork, chairman of the SEPLA Norwegian Company Council, said he was “very pleased that Norwegian recognises its pilots as a valuable, unique asset. We consider the crews to be an important resource for gaining a competitive advantage in the highly competitive airline industry. We are very pleased that Norwegian has gone the extra mile to invest in such an asset.”

SEPLA’s members will now vote on the agreement.

Different approach
Icelandair’s collective bargaining agreement is valid until December 31, 2019, and members of the Icelandic Airline Pilots Association will now vote on it.

Bjorgolfur Johannsson, CEO of Icelandair, said that “for this round of negotiations, both parties used a different approach than before. The goal was to secure competitive wages for our pilots in an international comparison, while strengthening the competitiveness of the company.”

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