Pilot unrest not isolated to the U.S.

An ASL 737F.
Will ASL’s 737Fs continue to fly uninterrupted?

Last week pilots from ASL Airlines Belgium (what remains of TNT Airways after ASL Aviation Group acquired the airline component of TNT Express from its new owner FedEx, in May 2016) issued a strike call, and threatened to disrupt the airline’s peak season operations. A statement released by the Belgian Cockpit Association said that since the acquisition in April 2015, management from ASL Belgium and leaders of the unions representing the pilots had “been involved in a fruitful social dialogue that resulted in a balanced agreement.” However, as the phase-out begins, BeCA said the two parties had reached an impasse resulting from unresolved grievances related to seniority, career advancement, salary, and scheduling issues. A spokesman for Dublin-based ASL group told Lloyd’s Loading List “ASL believes that all of the issues can be resolved and has asked for an immediate start to negotiations aimed at bringing matters to a swift conclusion that is acceptable to both parties. This offer of immediate conciliatory talks is in the best interests of the airline’s customers and also its staff.”

As it stands now, only a handful of the major US-based cargo operators have been able to navigate contract negotiations with their pilot unions, sans interruptions.  Pilots employed by Air Transport Services Group (ABX Air, and ATI), Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (Atlas Air, Polar Air Cargo, and Southern Air), and Kalitta Air have become heated in recent months, culminating in a wildcat strike by ABX pilots in late November. In parallel, this has not been an issue for largest global integrators headquartered in the United States both managed to settle long-term contracts with its own pilot unions. FedEx pilots ratified a six-year contract in 2015, and this year UPS pilots opted for a contract with an expiration date closely tracking that of their FedEx counterparts.  Although FedEx and UPS are in the clear with their own airlines, both still face potential interruptions from regional carriers which operate on behalf of the major integrators. Last week pilots from ASL Airlines Belgium (what remains of TNT Airways after ASL Aviation Group acquired the airline component of TNT Express from its new owner FedEx, in May 2016) issued a strike call, and threatened to disrupt the airline’s peak season operations. A statement released by the Belgian Cockpit Association said that since the acquisition in April 2015, management from ASL Belgium and leaders of the unions representing the pilots had “been involved in a fruitful social dialogue that resulted in a balanced agreement.” However, as the phase-out begins, BeCA said the two parties had reached an impasse resulting from unresolved grievances related to seniority, career advancement, salary, and scheduling issues.

A spokesman for Dublin-based ASL group told Lloyd’s Loading List “ASL believes that all of the issues can be resolved and has asked for an immediate start to negotiations aimed at bringing matters to a swift conclusion that is acceptable to both parties. This offer of immediate conciliatory talks is in the best interests of the airline’s customers and also its staff.”

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