Finnair announced plans to cut as many as 700 jobs on Tuesday following a nearly two-month consultation process. Around 600 jobs will be lost in Finland, while a further 100 employees will be made permanently redundant at the airline’s foreign outposts. The lay-off’s exclude cabin crew and pilots, the majority of whom remain temporarily laid-off without pay for the foreseeable future.
Like many airlines, Finnair’s business has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local travel restrictions have hampered the Helsinki-based airline’s recovery efforts, while Finnair’s long-haul reliance on Asian destinations which largely remain closed to European and North American visitors has heaped even more pressure on the embattled carrier.
Ole Orvér, Finnair’s chief operating officer warned earlier this month that the Corona crisis was continuing to have a “heavy impact” on the demand for air travel. The airline now only plans to serve 51 destinations in Europe and Asia over the winter season.
“The corona pandemic has been completely unfair to our industry and unfortunately many Finnair employees now must experience its financial implications personally,” commented Finnair’s chief executive Topi Manner on Tuesday.
“The changes are, however, necessary and inevitable. Finnair’s re-build requires us to be competitive when aviation gradually starts to recover. Therefore, in the future, we will have to do many things differently in order to succeed in the competitive market,” he continued.
Only a core group of 100 cabin crew have been retained by the airline and 200 more will be chosen to work flights every other month. Nearly 2,000 cabin crew have been furloughed by the airline without pay, although the Finnish government is paying 50 per cent of their usual wages.
They will not return to work until demand for air travel picks up.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) fears a protracted recovery with passenger numbers not returning to anything like pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023 to 2024.
Finnair had originally hoped to operate around 200 flights per day in October but slashed its schedules in response to a second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic which has surged across Europe. The airline now only plans to operate around 70 flights per day, including cargo-only services.
In June, the Finnish Cabin Crew Association accused Finnair of prioritising the return to work of cheaper foreign-based crew. The union claimed up to 90 per cent of Hong Kong-based cabin crew on less generous contracts than Finnish crew would have returned to work by October.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.