Finnair has announced that it will be unable to operate more than 90 flights on Friday due to the ongoing labour dispute between the Finnish Aviation Union (IAU) and Service Sector Employers (Palta).
“This is already the second time we have to cancel over 90 flights,” Jaakko Schildt, the chief operating officer at the state-owned airline, laments in a press release.
The cancellations include a large share of the domestic and continental flights scheduled to depart or arrive between 3pm and 7pm on Friday – during the four-hour work stoppage organised by the ground handling and security control staff at Helsinki Airport. A complete list of the cancellations, along with other information on the effects of the strike, is available on the website of Finnair.
The airline says it will also adjust the departure times of some of its flights to ensure they are not affected by the stoppage.
The cancellations are estimated to disrupt the travel plans of thousands of air passengers, reveals Schildt. “We sincerely apologise for the trouble and concern this is causing to our customers. We hope that the parties to the dispute will reach an agreement as soon as possible,” he tells.
The work stoppage will also affect catering on domestic and continental flights and baggage handling at Helsinki Airport. Passengers who are able to are urged to travel with hand baggage only to avoid what are expected to be “considerable delays” in baggage handling on Friday.
Finnair also reiterates that it is in no way a party to the continuing dispute over the terms and conditions of employment adopted by Airport, a provider of airport services, in early February.
Minna Helle, the National Conciliator of Finland, voiced her disappointment following the collapse of the negotiations between IAU, Airpro and Palta on Wednesday.
“The negotiations between the parties have been gridlocked for some time and the parties remain quite far apart. There are currently no indications that the situation will change in the immediate future,” she says in a press release.
Helle asserts that the objective is nevertheless to resolve the dispute as soon as possible, although no timetable has yet been set for resuming the conciliation process. The parties, she says, will return to the negotiation table as soon as the situation changes.
The collective agreement at the heart of the dispute is in compliance with the competitiveness pact. IAU, however, has seceded from the competitiveness pact and is demanding improved terms and conditions of employment for its members.
IAU has issued a strike warning also for 22 March, 23 March and 24 March. No estimates of the effects of the possible strikes have yet been released.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva