Turkish Airlines Unions Agree To Wage Cuts To Save Jobs

Turkish Airlines and its workers’ unions have agreed to massive pay cuts in order to safeguard jobs. In an announcement made yesterday, the Hava-Iş union, which represents almost 75% of the airline’s nearly 30,000 workers, said they reached an agreement.

Port Harcourt, Turkish Airlines, Airbus A330
Turkish Airlines pilots have agreed to a 50% pay cut. Photo: Getty Images

The deal brokered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the Istanbul based carrier must review its finances every six months. The Turkish national flag carrier has agreed to cut pilot’s wages by 50%, cabin crew wages by 35%, and other airline workers’ salaries by 30% through 2021.

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Passenger numbers were down 61%

Like airlines worldwide, Turkish Airlines has had to face border closures and a steep decline in passenger numbers due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

When announcing its second-quarter earnings, the state-owned airline said it had lost 2.23 billion Turkish liras ($303 million). These figures reflected the passenger numbers down 61% compared to the first six months of 2019.

Unlike many other airlines who were quick to furlough employees, Turkish Airlines refrained from cutting jobs and has not asked the government for a bailout.

Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines cabin crew have agreed to a 35% pay cut. Photo: Turkish Airlines

Reducing employee salaries could decrease the airline’s 2021 monthly cash burn of $350

Following the pact with the union’s Turkish Airlines will end the short-term employment framework adapted after the grounding of planes. During this time, employees had received a fraction of their former wages. The agreed pay cuts in the pact should come into effect this month.

Ankara sent out a letter

Before yesterday’s agreement, the government in Ankara sent out letters to airlines in Turkey, asking what they thought about laying off foreign pilots and crew before Turkish nationals. Turkey has floated proposals that would require its airlines to ax foreign pilots and cabin crew before dismissing local workers.

When times were good, and thousands of people were taking to the skies, Turkish carriers recruited many ex-pats with 11% of cabin crew now non-Turkish.

In the letter the government sent out, newswire service Bloomberg claims that employee unions were pressing for airlines to hire more Turkish workers. Bloomberg went on to say that, when it contacted airlines regarding the letter, they all played it down. Turkish airline Pegasus is reported to have said that only 100 of its 6,000 employees were from overseas.

No food on short flights

In other Turkish Airlines news, the Star Alliance member said it would no longer be offering any food on flights shorter than two hours. Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines had already switched to pre-packaged meals to stop interaction between cabin crew and passengers.

No more food on any flight shorter than two hours. Photo: Getty Images

To sum things up, losing half of your pay for a year is better than losing your job. Some senior pilots were making more than $10,000 a month before the coronavirus, while flight attendants were averaging around $1,000 per month.

What do you think about the Turkish Airlines employee pay cuts? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.