Czech Airlines aims to drastically lower salaries

Photo: Filip Jandourek

The troubled national carrier Czech Airlines is looking to drastically lower monthly salaries from the start of next year. According to the daily Lidové noviny, experienced captains with long tenure will be the hardest hit, seeing a drop in wages of up to 30 percent. Younger pilots could see wages drop by one-fifth, at least as evidenced by a wage schedule provided by the company to labour unions.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Labour representatives, says Lidové noviny, understand why wage cuts are needed at the ailing carrier Czech Airlines; nevertheless, doubts remain over steps outlined by the company leadership. Namely, the unions have questioned the idea that wage cuts should most be carried by experienced pilots with long track records, as itm could have negative repercussions. At the top of the list? That reliable senior pilots could seek employment elsewhere, hardly a positive for the firm. The head of the Trade Union of Czech Airline Pilots, Stanislav Fiala, suggested that if the move ultimately drove pilots away, it would be better for the company to close down entirely, to allow a fresh start for a presumably new firm from the ground up.

Although ČSA does not provide exact information about pilots’ wages, experienced pilots says Lidové noviny, receive double that of their new or less experienced counterparts. The former may earn 100,000 crowns a month, the other less than 50,000. While either of those wages are considerably higher than the Czech national average, they are still comparatively lower than salaries at other European carriers. Mr Fiala made clear there were plenty of other airlines who had room for Czech pilots should they seek employment elsewhere.

According to Lidové noviny, at partner Korean Air wages for pilots are higher by roughly one-half, while at Emirates they are double, in other words, there could be considerable incentive for pilots to consider employment abroad. A departure by experienced pilots, according to Mr Fiala, could also worsen the situation for the airline at a time when other flight crew are considering the option to strike. Pilots - while supportive – are not leaning in that direction yet.

Staff members are already deeply dissatisfied with layoffs announced in September, with 77 pilots, 172 on board personnel and 66 technicians being let go after A320s were cut from the fleet. It is not clear there are any quick fixes but of importance now will be that the communication lines between the unions and the firm remain open. To that end, both the prime minister and the finance minister have made clear they have plans to step in in talks between the leadership and employees to see if they can’t help work out a solution.