Video of the week – Working with unions to achieve optimal outcomes

It is summer in Europe and that can generally mean strikes, especially in the UK as families attempt to escape the rat race during the school holidays. This year appears no different with ground staff at airports up and down the country already taking action and threatening more. This week British Airways pilots have voted heavily in favour of rejecting a new pay deal and strike action could disrupt the airline’s flights from early-August if such threats turn into action.

We take a look back at the closing session from this year’s CAPA – Centre for Aviation Airline Leader Summit where respected industry consultant John Byerly moderated a discussion with ALPA first vice president Bob Fox, CityJet CEO Pat Byrne and European Commission director for aviation Filip Cornelis on the subject of union relations.

Airlines have limited options in removing costs in the face of downturn. One area for action is to revise network operations, even fundamentally redirecting strategy, particularly where new market directions are emerging, such as the impact of new aircraft types and new entrants. For this, management must ideally seek the engagement of labour, to ensure effective implementation.

With a great majority of costs both external and largely uncontrollable, reducing that one third of costs that relates to labour inevitably also comes under the microscope. In a reducing market there is often much pain to be shared, but intelligent and rational – ideally consensual – courses are available. These should take account of the short term need for action as well as providing that the patient will be healthy when it emerges from whatever surgery has been necessary to ensure survival.