KLM pilots agree to pay cuts up to 2025, clearing way for government bail-out

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

Pilots’ union VNV has reached agreement with KLM about pay cuts for the next five years, clearing the way for the government to pump a further €2.4bn into the company in the form of loans and guarantees.

‘The way has now been cleared for the financial support needed to get KLM through the crisis,’ Willem Schmid, chairman of the pilots’ union, said in a reaction. ‘Calm needs to return to our company.’

Last Friday, finance minister Wopke Hoekstra demanded all the aviation unions agreed to a programme of wage moderation up to 2025, when the support package is due to expire. KLM initially made agreements with unions about pay cuts lasting up to 2022.

Although the main ground and cabin crew unions fell into line, the pilots’ refusal to agree at the weekend threatened to put the government’s bail-out package in doubt. ‘It was not an easy birth, but the [government’s] conditions have now been agreed and we can look forward,’ Hoekstra said.

KLM has already had €1bn in support – mostly to help pay wages – and can count on a further €2.4bn in loans and guarantees, if it meets government efficiency requirements.

The package so far envisages 5,000 job losses by the end of the year – or around 15% of the total workforce pre coronavirus crisis.

Parent company Air France-KLM said on Friday the group had made a net loss of €1.67bn in the third quarter, as passenger numbers fell 70% to 8.8 million.

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