The labour organization representing pilots in Norway, Norsk Flygerforbund, has reached an agreement with the new operator of the country’s air ambulance service. Conflicts remain between operator Babcock Scandinavian AirAmbulance and aircraft technicians, so the air ambulances still face groundings.
News bureau NTB reported that the pilots and Babcock settled their differences after late-night negotiations that extended into Wednesday morning. Union leader Yngve Carlsen said the settlement means “this crisis perhaps will be over. It creates stability … that’s an important step.”
All air ambulance pilots who want to start working for Babcock will be secured a job at the same base they have today. The union in turn accepted reduced pay and other terms of their employment. Health Minister Bent Høie said he was glad the pilots and Babcock came to terms so that air ambulance flights can continue.
Høie continued to face criticism from those who don’t think he played a strong enough role in resolving the turbulence around the critical air ambulance service that grounded planes in Northern Norway, but Høie claims it was up to the company and the union to settle their differences. He also arranged for two military helicopters with doctors on board to stand by in case of emergency.
State broadcaster NRK reported, however, that seven of the 21 technicians servicing the air ambulances may quit if their demands are not met by Babcock, which won the bidding for the air ambulance contract last year. Labour negotiatoins between the technicians and Babcock reportedly had not yet begun.