AIRLINES: Strike threat at Flair Airlines

Flair airlines (photo courtesy Flair Air)

The union representing flight attendants at Flair Airlines served 72-hour strike notice.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents 139 flight attendants at the ultra low-cost airline. They will be in a legal strike position at midnight Monday.

The union says the main sticking points are wages, pensions and scheduling issues. The two sides have been in contract talks for nearly a year. Strike notice was issued Friday after mediation failed to resolve their differences.

Flair transformed from a charter airline to an ultra low-cost carrier in 2017. It now serves destinations in Canada and the United States, with its hub in Edmonton.

CUPE says since the conversion, Flair has asked for lower starting wages for flight attendants, and is now proposing a two-tiered salary structure where new cabin crew would be paid less than more senior staff. The union says it countered with a wage freeze, which it says Flair rejected.

Flair has not responded to the union’s notice.

Westjet, whose own labour challenges cost it business during the busy summer season this year, is jumping on the opportunity on social media.

CUPE members voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action. The union says flight attendants at the airline are paid $33.20 per hour, but are only paid for their time in the air. CUPE says when you take into account all hours flight crew have to work to do their jobs, their actual hourly rate is much lower.

Ultra low-cost carriers face heavy pressure to minimize costs. Fight crews typically represent at least 10 per cent of an air carrier’s budget, with fuel often being the biggest expense.

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