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A Turkish Airlines 787-9 at Paine Field. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Turkish Airlines Announces Deep Pay Cuts to Avoid Forced Layoffs

Turkish Airlines announced that it will implement pay cuts to protect employment and reduce its cash outflow in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The news comes after the airline announced that the Labor Union did not respond to the airline’s offer and its expectations and calls for reconciliation remained unanswered.

As of August 1, wages specified in the 25th period collective agreement covering the 2016-2018 period will be paid, meaning wages will not be paid under the 26th labor contract covering the 2019-2021 period. Since 2019, Turkish Airlines employees’ wages have increased by 12.19%, 6.51%, 8.50% and 7.25% respectively. Under the new contract, the airline will cut approximately 35% of wages, returning to 2018 levels. The airline will not increase salaries in 2021. Additionally, the airline employees will not be able to receive bonus payments until 2022.

“It is clear that the proposal has to be accepted and implemented in order to overcome the challenging process caused by the global pandemic without going through mass layoffs like other airline companies do,” Turkish Airlines wrote in a letter sent to airline employees.

Since the airline’s proposal regarding the wage arrangement, which has become mandatory for the protection of employment, has not been answered by the Labor Union, Turkish Airlines has not been able to switch to normal working order and the short-time work scheme has to be extended, according to the Turkish flag carrier. On June 29, the airline announced the extension of the short-term work scheme for 1 month, deciding that the short-term work that was applied at 10% during the past three months would continue at 50% throughout July.

“It is a fact known to all of our stakeholders that this process is a provisional solution, and the main expectation of our Company and our employees is the wage arrangement, which is a permanent measure suitable for this extraordinary period that will protect the employment,” said the airline in the letter.

Turkish Airlines to Resist Layoffs Amid Pandemic

Turkish Airlines previously announced it would resist layoffs and protect skilled labor until the end of 2021 when it expects the aviation industry to return to pre-pandemic operation levels.

“I do not regard 2020 and 2021 as years of profitability, but years of employment protection. We aim to protect employment until the end of 2021. Our job is to resist layoffs as much as we can. The aviation industry faces a shortage of skilled professionals and reserving our skilled workforce as much as possible is our top priority through this period,” said Turkish Airlines Chief Executive Ilker Ayci in an interview with an Istanbul-based media outlet.

Turkey’s flag carrier resumed international flights in early June and will extend its international destinations with flights to Russia, Kuwait, India and South Africa in August.

The airline has a flight network spanning 126 countries and 316 cities, making it the carrier that flies to the greatest number of countries non-stop from a single airport in the world.

Turkish Airlines employs 5,432 pilots and 12,052 cabin crew in addition to 46,482 personnel across all its business units and subsidiaries, making it one of the biggest employers among European airlines. As Europe’s third-largest airline, it also has 360 aircraft in its fleet.

Bulent Imat
Bulent Imat
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