Norwegian Air is reaching new heights in its efforts to cut personnel costs. Its move last week to dismiss its full-time cabin crews in Sweden, and instead hire them back through a personnel agency, comes as US authorities have been asked to review its Asian crewing on long-haul flights.
“It would be good if the US would take a look at this,” the chief executive of rival airline SAS told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “That would raise some issues of principle up to an international level.”
The call for a US review comes from the most power airline pilots’ organization in the US, which is challenging Norwegian’s decision to operate new routes between Europe and the US with Asian crews who earn far less than European or American workers. Norwegian has responded by calling the European and US air alliances “cartels,” while their members retort that trans-Atlantic routes are among the most deregulated in the world.
Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, meanwhile, reported that employees of Norwegian Air Shuttle Sweden are being transferred to a personnel agency that in turn will lease them out to Norwegian. Those who don’t go along with the transfer reportedly will be dismissed.
While Norwegian claimed the airline and its employees agreed to the pending transfers, the head of the employees’ labour organization countered that they had no choice. “There’s no law that would prevent the company from phasing out operations or restructuring,” said Susanne Boronkay of Unionen Stockholm.