HOLIDAYMAKERS face a summer of flight chaos if more than 300 pilots at Manchester-based Air 2000 vote for industrial action.
Airline bosses at Manchester Airport were due to hold crunch talks with union officials today in a bid to head off a planned ballot over pay next week.
But Air 2000 has indicated it will not increase the pay offer on the table, thought to be 2.9 per cent.
Some of the firm's 366 pilots, who earn between £36,000 and £52,000 a year, have said they felt let down after forgoing a three-per cent pay rise to help the firm when it was struggling after September 11.
They have asked for 7.5 per cent to restore their wages to the levels they were before, with a willingness to negotiate. But the gap between the two sides remains so wide that many pilots believe the dispute may end in strike action.
It could mean delays or cancellations for holidaymakers who have booked their breaks through First Choice, which owns the airline.
Other tour operators that have chartered the airline could also be affected.
Air 2000 has also entered the budget flights market, offering one-way fares from Manchester to Alicante, Malaga and Faro from £29, and they could also be affected by a strike.
One pilot, who declined to be named, said: "There has always been a willingness by the pilots to help the company through difficult times, which we did when we did not take up the second part of a two-year pay deal worth around three per cent.
"We've worked hard and we feel like we've been kicked in the teeth. There's a very good chance it will go to industrial action. But what form that will take is yet to be decided. It may be a work to rule, or it may be a withdrawal of co-operation.
"On the other hand, it may well go to strike action. First Choice is one of the biggest tour operators in the country and a strike would have a massive impact on them."
John Murphy, Air 2000's director of flight operations, confirmed that the pilots' union, BALPA, had paved the way for a ballot on industrial action.
"There will be further negotiations today," he said. "I think there is a long way to go before there is a ballot and I don't believe there will be one - and I don't think there will be any action that will disrupt the passengers."
However, before Mr Murphy went into today's talks, he admitted the offer would "not necessarily" be increased.
First Choice has reported a massive increase in bookings since the end of the war in Iraq. It also revealed financial results this week showing that losses had shrunk by 11 per cent to £44.1 million last year.
This was exactly the reason the Australian Pilots dipute of 1989 took place. The Ansett and Australian Airlines pilots made wage concessions to steer the airlines through the bad times, then a few years later when it was time to get things back on track, the management didn't want to know! Sometimes it seems pilots can't win: if you don't help, you lose your job, if you do help, you lose your shirt! No wonder most of us are bitter and twisted! Goodluck Air 2-bob pilots; if you stand up for what you deserve, you may well get it!
I don't believe it. I'm sure it's not true. If it is, so help me ....
If it is, whoever is advising the troops is seriously misled.
There is a shortage of qualified pilots at this very moment in time, however most of those in 'the know' in the Uk understand that there WILL probably be at least ONE FAILURE in the UK market when the winter season starts. Too many seat providers chasing even fewer seat bookings. If these guys go on strike and damage their own 'income provider' that much, then maybe they will be the ones to go.
Any group of pilots considering such action, at the current time, in Europe, for sure, would be seriously advised to check their sanity.
You only have to look at Cathay to see the answers.
Don't be too eager to fall on your swords; you may not live to regret it!
Last edited by Jack The Lad; 15th Jun 2003 at 15:12.
There is no chance whatsoever of a strike by Air 2000 pilots. The union has minority support; the pilots have one of the best contracts in the business. This is a deliberate attempt by the union, BALPA, and its militant supporters, Airbus Girl, to damage the company, they know they will be humiliated if they try for industrial action and so does the company. We are all aware of how easy it is to shoot oneself in the foot in this day and age.
Like most Air2000 pilots, I believe that the pilots' pay claim has more merit than the company's pay offer. But the negotiations are still going on and, as has been pointed out, a strike is neither proposed or likely.
However, it is disgraceful that a company pilot should blab to the press, and even more disgraceful that another (or possibly the same) company pilot, Airbus Girl, should further air our laundry by starting this thread.
Airbus Girl, we all make mistakes when we're feeling a little hot headed, and I think you owe the AMM pilot community an apology for your actions.
A little hard on Airbus Girl, I feel. This newspaper article is in the public domain.
411A, different laws in the UK to the USA - you can't be sacked for going on strike.
I wouldn't call our contract the best in the business, missive, but even if it was the company has proposed new contracts which are much less attractive. And regarding BALPA support, union recognition was awarded as a result of a ballot of all Air 2000 pilots, members and non members. Many pilots are happy for BALPA to represent them without forking out their 1% a month. Where do you get your information from?
A CC member has told me that the company wants to go to arbitration on their original offer of 2.6% from the 1st April. There's a sign of a caring sharing company. The directors enjoyed a 40% bonus this year, following a 40% pay rise last year.
What is the point in working for a company which is enjoying the most successful year in its history, if this success is not shared by the employees?
Doubt you will see a large player fold this year! Been hearing that one now for two years!
No point in a strike at the moment there are enough pressures on companies at the moment! But this is also not a time to allow airlines to take advantage! As for Air 2000 having the best contract around not sure that is true! Think Mon´ and Brit´s have better deals.
The Air 2000 contract is as good as any. As a member of the CC Pom you should be able to give us facts not the usual half truth and smears. This topic though should be restricted to the company site, typical of our CC to shift it to the public forum.