Norwegian Air revealed general pay and benefits for its striking pilots in Scandinavia on Thursday, after announcing that it was reorganizing the subsidiary in which they’re employed. As some pilots themselves have suggested, they seem rather well off.
“We probably have some of the best working conditions in the industry,” one pilot who does not support the strike that has disrupted travel for 100,000 passengers so far wrote in an email received by newspaper Aftenposten. Norwegian claimed it had been contacted by pilots who feared that their own union was jeopardizing their jobs and the airline itself, which Norwegian’s management used as part of its reason for a major company reorganization on Thursday.
As part of the details released about that reorganization, Norwegian also detailed general terms of the labour agreement its Scandinavian pilots currently have, and which Norwegian has said will be transferred with the pilots to the new subsidiaries:
*** Top annual salaries for Norwegian Air captains amount to NOK 1.07 million (USD 134,000 at current exchange rates) and NOK 700,000 for co-pilots. In addition come travel provisions of around NOK 10,000 per month. Pilots who offer to work on their days off, no matter how little or how much, will also receive double pay. That means a captain can receive NOK 12,000 for the day’s work.
*** Work schedules and holiday: Norwegian Air pilots in Scandinavia also work on a so-called 5-4 system, meaning that five days on the job are followed by four days off. Norwegian pilots also are allotted up to seven weeks of paid holiday a year, and around 30 percent of the pilots have a “variable portion” of their time off. That means they can move up to two days per month from the 5-4 system, to consolidate bigger blocks of time off. That also entitles them to extra compensation of around NOK 1,100 to move a workday.
Norwegian’s Scandinavian pilots have 203 workdays a year, minus at least 26 days of paid holiday, resulting in 177 net workdays (less if they qualify for the full seven weeks of holiday). Scandinavian pilots work on average 3.9 days a week, or around 750 hours of the 900 allowed under current regulations in Europe. Under current labour contracts, which Norwegian has offered to extend, the pilots work an average of 17 days a month.
The Norwegian Pilot Union called a strike last Saturday, demanding that its roughly 650 members be employed through the airline’s parent company Norwegian Air Shuttle and to protest possible cuts in pay, benefits, insurance and pensions, which still pay a set percentage of a pilot’s salary upon retirement instead of a flat sum invested over the years. Norwegian pilots’ Loss of License insurance also pays out a flat sum to those who no longer can work as a pilot. It was recently doubled, from around NOK 2.7 million to NOK 5.3 million.