Passengers on a Finnair flight to Beijing, China, on 3 February 2022. The Finnish majority state-owned airline is set to launch consultative negotiations with staff representatives with a view to cutting up to a quarter of its in-flight service staff. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


FINNAIR on Wednesday announced it will initiate consultative negotiations as part of its large-scale effort to restore profitability to pre-pandemic levels.

The Finnish majority state-owned airline said it could consequently to terminate up to 450 jobs in long-haul in-flight services – accounting for more than a quarter of its entire cabin crew of 1,750 – and subcontract the services on routes to and from Thailand and the United States.

The consultative negotiations are to start on 23 November and end in early January 2023. The services are to be subcontracted to partners by the end of next year.

Partners are already providing in-flight services on the airline’s routes to and from Hong Kong, India and Singapore, as well as on the routes between Copenhagen and Doha and Stockholm and Doha.

“Our target continues to be to find a savings solution together with our cabin crew,” stated Topi Manner, the chief executive of Finnair. “We now need a genuine will from the negotiators to find solutions that would allow us to continue in-flight service with our crew and avoid redundancies. Discussion on alternative solutions is a vitally important part of the change negotiations process.”

The airline said it has discussed cost-cutting measures with its staff throughout the autumn, proposing to its cabin crew changes to the utilisation efficiency, layover hotel rules and per-hour pay rules for long flights. An agreement, it added, was reached with some employee groups but not with the cabin crew in Finland.

Finnair on Wednesday reminded that it racked up significant losses during the coronavirus pandemic and that its ability to recoup them has been undermined by the closure of Russian airspace. The airspace closure has significantly lengthened what was formerly the strategic cornerstone of the airline, flights over Russia to Asia.

The airline has posted a comparable operating loss of 182 million euros for the first three quarters of the year, after suffering losses of roughly 470 million euros in 2021 and almost 600 million euros in 2020.

Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday reported that news of the subcontracting plans came as a shock to the cabin crew at Finnair.

“That Finnair is set to reduce its cabin crew is pretty shocking news overall because we’ve struggled with staff sufficiency throughout the summer and even autumn,” commented Marianne Arteva, the chairperson at the Finnish Cabin Crew Association (SLSY).

Aleksi Teivainen – HT