Dutch union cancels EasyJet strike during May holiday period; KLM recruiting pilots

SCHIPHOL - Dutch labor union FNV has abandoned plans to organize EasyJet cabin crew for a possible strike during the busy May holiday period. The vacation period covers the duration of the school holiday in all regions of the Netherlands, which runs from April 29 - May 7. 


FNV union leader Stijn Jansen confirmed the decision on Thursday after it was reported that the British budget airline has recognized FNV as a negotiation partner for the new collective bargaining agreement that covers its Dutch cabin crew, including flight attendants and pursers. 


EasyJet follows KLM as the airline that operates the most flights at Schiphol. The British airline already tried to reach an agreement with another union, VNC, about a new collective agreement. According to Jansen, this twice led to an agreement in principle, but the final terms for a new contract has not yet been reached. 


EasyJet has approximately 250 cabin crew members at its Schiphol hub. Around a hundred of them are FNV members. The union will join talks at the bargaining table with EasyJet in April. 


“We are very pleased that we can finally represent the interests of our members at EasyJet and their colleagues at the collective bargaining table,” said Jansen. "The inflation crisis is hitting our members very hard, and we are going to work towards a satisfactory wage increase. We would also like to make agreements about workable schedules." 


Air France-KLM wants to recruit pilots for the summer season with bonuses 


Meanwhile, Air France-KLM is also looking to resolve a labor issue of its own. The airline group wants to recruit hundreds of pilots this year, in some cases with the help of bonuses and incentives. In this way, the aviation group wants to ensure that airlines Air France and Transavia, which also belong to the group, have enough pilots this summer. 


In total, there are 500 to 600 pilots that need to be hired, an Air France spokesperson told Bloomberg. In addition, Air France wants to give pilots who can operate Boeing 777 and Airbus A320 aircraft a bonus if they waive a maximum of seven vacation days. The spokesperson would not comment on the amount of those bonuses. 


Air France already reported last month that it expects capacity in the second half of 2023 to reach 95 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. In the past year, airlines had difficulty expanding their services further. This was mainly due to staff shortages and strikes at airports, including Schiphol and Heathrow. As a result, flights were repeatedly cancelled, rescheduled, or moved to other airports.