Pilots agree to KLM reorganisation, clearing way for bailout approval

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Three hours before the deadline, airline KLM was able to present its plans for a reorganisation to finance minister Wopke Hoekstra, after pilots’ unions reached a deal on job losses and pay.

The Dutch flag carrier had until Friday to come up with a deal, which is likely to mean several thousand job losses in total. KLM earlier reached agreement with cabin and ground crew unions about cost cutting in order to meet the terms of the government’s €3.4bn bailout.

Hoekstra said in a reaction that he welcomed news of the agreement and will now study the proposals before giving a final decision. ‘This is the first step on the way to recovery,’ he said on Twitter. ‘Much has to happen, not just to survive the crisis, but to ensure a healthy financial future.’

Ministers and KLM had reached agreement in principle in June on a €3.4bn package up to 2025 to help the Dutch flag carrier through the coronavirus crisis.

The financial support is made up of a €1bn loan and €2.4bn in guarantees for commercial loans, which KLM has already agreed with banks.

The package is not without conditions. The cabinet agreed that parent company Air France-KLM and both subsidiaries should cut costs – by 15% in KLM’s case.

Staff earning three times average salaries will be asked to take a 20% pay cut while those on lower incomes will also be asked to accept lower pay. No dividends or bonuses will be paid until the loans are repaid and the number of night flights will be cut from 32,000 to 25,000.

The French government agreed a €7bn package with Air France earlier. The Dutch and French states both have a 14% stake in the Air France-KLM partnership.

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