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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Flight Attendants in Europe

Last week in Bombay I met a Lufthansa pilot who is actively involved in the European pilots union and is concerned with safety. He subsequently sent me an article that revealed some interesting facts on Ryanair cabin crew. Hopefully he will send me more on the flight crews too.

Below are the bullet points from an article that he had sent  concerning two cabin crew members who had been fired. For all US based Flight Attendants, I think you'll agree the grass is not always greener.

  • While the employer can terminate the three-year contracts at any point, and with anywhere from zero to 14 days notice, the employee was subject to a charge of EUR 200 as an “administrative fee” if she resigned prior to 15 months.
  •  The employee not only had to pay for her own training but also for her uniforms (EUR 30 was deducted from her paychecks each month for a year) and their ID cards. Any items consumed on board the aircraft was also deducted from her pay. If the amount of deductions exceeded her paycheck, the difference was due within 14 days and subject to interest costs and fees if overdue. 
  • Hourly pay in one of the flight attendant’s contracts was set at NOK 122 (USD 21) per hour of flight time, with no extra pay for weekend or holiday work. Annual pay was estimated at NOK 115,000 (USD 20,000).
  • Participation in any strikes or demonstrations related to a labour conflict were grounds for immediate dismissal. 
  • No sick leave was paid and any absence from scheduled work, regardless of reason, led to deduction from her paychecks. Twenty days of annual holiday had to be planned well in advance and could be cancelled at any time if Ryanair needed the employee to work. She could also be ordered to take a minimum of four weeks of unpaid leave every year to meet the company’s need to reduce staffing during low travel seasons. 
  • The employee was also subject to a certain number of “stand-by” shifts and had to be able to report to work within an hour if called in. No compensation was paid for the stand-by waiting periods. 
  • The Rygge airport at Moss, south of Oslo, was listed as the employee’s base, but she was warned that she could be moved at any time, and would need to pay the costs of her move. 
  • All terms of the contracts were to be kept confidential. The employee was warned that violation of the confidentiality tied to the contracts would be seen as grave dereliction of duty and grounds for dismissal with possible legal action as well.

What is happening in Europe in Aviation? This is might just be the tip of the Iceberg. 

Alex Wood, over at the The AVIATOR shares his thoughts on what's happening in Europe.

The Aviator

"2013 is expected to be another profitless year for the European carriers. After the deregulation in 2008, the airline companies have been facing massive losses close to $1.7 billion dollars. Despite the fragmented air traffic management, the lack of infrastructure, high fuel costs and commodities charges, and heavy operational regulations, competition for the most profitable route has shifted to Europe’s 3rd biggest export location, Russia..."

Are slave wages the answer? How does cutting costs impact safety? Please drop by The Aviator to read more the the European Crisis...

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. Karlene, thank you so much for sharing this subject to us.

    So the cabin crews are becoming hostages of their employers then? So the bad management is directly reflecting their "problems" on their employees?

    A member of staff has the moral right to organize strikes or take part. It is your right to fight for your rights! And how this should affect safety? If you are making your staff unhappy and you are cutting costs on essential sides, this will affect the parameters of safety. And if safety is a risk, then losses should be expected as a consequence.

    This measure is NOT the answer.

    And to Karlene's colleague: Thank you for bringing us this subject. So important!


    1. Alex, Thank you so much for your comment. I hope you will read Cecilie's comment below. It's interesting. Last evening I spent with my friend who lives in the Netherlands. The stories she shared with the quality of this company and another ... E.J. were astounding. You have lots of work to do to find the answers in Europe! Looking forward to your next article.

  2. This has been all over the media here in Norway as you can imagine, the past few weeks. The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary (MOL) showed up at a press conference last Thursday in Rygge, where Ryanair has a base. He denied, of course, all the allegations against Ryanair. He is a good communicator, and unfortunately, the Norwegian media sent unprepared, unexperienced journalists to cover it. The journalists could've asked good questions and really put MOL up against the wall. But they didn't. So MOL got his name and message broadcasted all over the media without people at the press conference arguing properly with him.

    At the press conference, MOL had two letters of termination with him, allegedly the letters for those two flight attendants that now wants to file a case against Ryanair and MOL. What "CEO" threatens to publish letters of termination for two former employees, to the media? Is he really that stupid? I'm think so..

    When Ryanair advertise with flights from Norway to Italy, only 89 NOK (about 15 USD) one way - someone's gotta pay for that. When flight attendants are only paid 122 NOK (BEFORE TAX!!!) per hour, something is terribly wrong. I'm not saying flying and international air traffic should be an elite privilege, but when the cost of the ticket can't even support the paycheck of a flight attendant, how is the airline then gonna cover the cost of fuel, maintenance, PILOTS+++?

    Another big issue with Ryanair and their base in Rygge, is that Ryanair thinks the flight attendants work in Ireland, even though their base is in Rygge, Norway and their work day starts and ends in Rygge. MOL explains that since the flight attendants only gets paid per flight hour (no pay for pre- and post-flight duties) and therefore are only at work while onboard the Irish registered aircraft, they are working in Ireland (or at least Irish territory) - While they live in Norway, a high cost country, they are paid Irish minimum wage. They subsequently pay taxes to Ireland, even though the Norwegian tax authorities have declared that these workers work in Norway, and should pay taxes to Norway, not Ireland. Since they don't pay taxes to Norway, they are not entitled to enroll in the Norwegian wellfare system, and receive the benefits from there.
    It's all a question about definitions...

    1. Cecilie, this is fascinating stuff. And truly a passion of yours. Thank you so much for sharing this added insight. I suspect the pilot I spoke to should have you on his team. Also, thank you for sending the pilot contracts. That will be posted soon!

  3. Cecilie, thanks for bringing such an interesting comment. I will make a post around this subject and I will take in to account your opinion!

    Need to figure out some answers then, Karlene!

    Another great post!



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