Finnair has signed an agreement with Norway's OSM Aviation on the outsourcing of cabin crew services on two of its long-haul routes.Finnair on Monday took the first steps toward carrying out its plan to reduce a total of 540 cabin crew positions by announcing that it has signed a partnership agreement with OSM Aviation. 

Initially, the Finnish airline will outsource cabin crew services from the Norwegian service provider on its routes to Singapore and Hong Kong. The impact of the arrangement on the operations of Finnair will be an estimated 100 labour units, said Ville Iho, the chief operating officer at the airline.

The necessary personnel, he added, will be recruited by OSM Aviation from Hong Kong and Singapore, where wage costs are substantially lower. 

Finnair is set to outsource cabin crew services on a total of 20 routes over the next two years. 

The airline was on Monday unable to estimate when OSM Aviation will begin providing cabin crew services on the said routes. Temporary lay-offs, however, will enable Finnair to make use of its personnel in a flexible manner, Iho pointed out.

Finnair will carry out the first phase of the outsourcing process by introducing temporary lay-offs, primarily for two reasons:

First, the impact of the announced outsourcings on the willingness of senior flight attendants to retire remains unknown. “Measures such as these are usually an incentive to retire,” Iho reminded.

Second, Finnair is under obligation to lay off its employees in the order of years of service, beginning with junior staff members. The airline would therefore be obliged to first terminate the contracts of junior flight attendants, while its objective is specifically to lay off its more experienced, better-paid employees. 

As a result, Finnair agreed in the recent consultative negotiations that temporary lay-offs would be introduced in the opposite order, beginning with staff members with the most years of service.

Thelma Åkers, the chairperson at the Finnish Cabin Crew Union, admitted on Monday that agreeing on the order of temporary lay-offs was a mistake. 

“If there are lay-offs, there will typically be no temporary lay-offs. It is rare that both measures are resorted to. During the negotiations, it wasn't realised that [temporary lay-offs] could be introduced without lay-offs,” she said.

Juha-Pekka Raeste – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva