Turkish Airlines Wants to Slash Pilot Wages by Half, Union Says

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Turkey’s national carrier plans to cut pilot wages by half and reduce salaries for other employees, its labor union said, in an attempt to shore up finances after most of its fleet was grounded during the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline plans to “undo” the more than 50% wage boost for pilots in 2018, when the Turkish currency depreciated 28% against the dollar, according to Ali Kemal Tatlibay, chairman of the Hava-Is union. “We’re ready to talk, but we won’t sign anything that our members don’t approve,” he told Bloomberg by phone on Tuesday.

In an internal email to staff seen by Bloomberg, Turkish Airlines said stakeholders and workers will have to take “permanent measures” to cut costs. The email said the company had told the union that protecting jobs may be possible only through a new wage arrangement.

Turkish Airlines didn’t respond to calls and emails seeking comment on Wednesday.

“We’ve received no formal proposal yet, but what we understand is that management basically wants to scrap collective agreement terms on wages and social rights,” Tatlibay said. “We don’t want the company to go bankrupt, but savings from staff should be the final resort.” Hava-Is represents almost 75% of the airline’s nearly 30,000 workers.

Turkish Airlines has $1.1 billion in debt repayments due this year from its total debt of $9.6 billion, according to its website.

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