Embattled Norwegian Air, the highly successful low-fare carrier that has run into major labour and long-distance route turbulence over the past year, now faces a strike by flight attendants at the end of April. They’re demanding the airline restore their pension plans that were replaced by much less lucrative pensions last year.
Norwegian chief executive Bjørn Kjos had to face around 150 angry flight attendants when he arrived at work earlier this week. They’re also furious over being officially transferred during the weekend to new Norwegian subsidiaries, Cabin Services Norway and Cabin Services Denmark, part of an ongoing restructuring of the airline to make it more flexible and cut costs.
Now Kjos faces a strike after labour negotiation broke down over a new collective bargaining agreement for Norwegian’s flight attendants that was to become effective from April 1. The union representing flight attendants, Norwegian Kabinforening, is cooperating with trade union federation Parat, which can call a strike within 16 days. An actual strike would thus occur sometime after the Easter holidays.
“No one wants a strike,” Kjos told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “But right now I think all this is based on misunderstandings.” He claims the airline is simply trying to secure the flight attendants’ jobs and benefits, not threaten them.