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Austrian_Airlines_(AUA)_is_determined_to_cover_possible_staff_shortages._Pictured:_AUA_CEO_Jaan_Albrecht.

AUA shrugs off flight chaos concerns

Austrian Airlines (AUA) is determined to cover possible staff shortages.

The company announced yesterday (Thurs) an exodus of displeased pilots and cabin crew could be compensated without hiring additional staff. Hundreds of the firm’s 2,100 pilots, stewards and stewardesses might leave the firm in the coming months due to a controversial austerity package.

The AUA board decided to change the employees’ contracts earlier this month. The move means that pilots’ incomes will soon decline by 25 per cent. The reformed contracts resemble those of the pilots of AUA subsidiary company Tyrolean Airways. AUA hopes to reduce annual expenses by more than 200 million Euros a year this way.

AUA CEO Jaan Albrecht has been under fire for carrying out the disputed reform despite immense pressure by unionists and works councillors. He justified the cuts as "vital" to the economic future of the airline established in 1957. Albrecht, who took over at AUA around half a year ago, criticised that the carrier’s personnel costs kept climbing in the past years. He underlined that its workforce level shrank at the same time.

A spokesman for the executive board of AUA said the airline would not experience difficulties in coping with a departure of hundreds of pilots. He ruled out that additional employees would be assigned to avoid a flight plan chaos. AUA has 6,000 employees. The carrier, which was acquired by Lufthansa in 2009, suffered a loss of almost 60 million Euros last year. Passenger figures have climbed in the past one and a half years.

More than 40 AUA pilots quit in the past weeks when it became evident that works committee leaders failed to avoid the contract reform. Strikes are still not considered by employees, according to business papers – but a leading unionist warned that starting a labour was always possible.

Lufthansa boss Christoph Franz – who recently warned from regarding AUA as a "protected area" – told the Financial Times Deutschland earlier this week that "nothing, including a sale of AUA, can be ruled out in this dynamic market". Only in December 2011, Lufthansa sold loss-making affiliate British Midlands (BMI) to rival British Airways for around 207 million Euros. The German aviation enterprise – which plans a harsh cutback regime for the coming months – had to write off 285 million Euros at BMI shortly before the deal was agreed on.

In related news, Flughafen Wien AG (FW) bosses presented plans to renovate Vienna International Airport (VIA or VIE). FW – which manages Austria’s biggest aerodrome – said all of the airport’s terminals would be rebuilt or refurbished in the next years. Another essential part of FW chiefs’ schedule is the opening of Skylink. The new terminal will be put into operation in June. Its construction cost around 800 million Euros.

FW is one of AUA’s most important partners as 51 per cent of all takeoffs and landings at VIA are AUA flights. The provincial governments of Lower Austria and Vienna are FW’s major shareholders. Both political institutions own a 20 per cent interest in the firm headed by Julian Jäger and Günther Ofner.

Vienna Times



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Tag cloud:
loss  Euros  carrier  flight  Lufthansa  terminals  Airways  chaos  Austrian  Vienna  airline  British  reformed  Airport  ndash  employees  Albrecht  rsquo  contracts  unionists


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