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Icelandair Pilots to Replace Flight Attendants (Yes, Really!)

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Icelandair has been negotiating its bargaining agreement with cabin crew, but efforts to reach a new deal have failed. Therefore, Icelandair is dismissing their cabin crew and replacing them with their… pilots.

“Although the negotiations were continued after the results of the voting were announced, it has now become evident that a mutually agreed conclusion will not be reached,” says the company.

FlightGlobal says Icelandair has stated that they will “permanently terminate” the employment of its current cabin crew members and “permanently discontinue” the employment relationship between the parties.

The company says it has been exploring other options to ensure safety and service on board, and therefore has turned to its pilots to taken on the responsibility. Pilots will “temporarily” step into cabin crew positions beginning on July 20, 2020. They will be on board primarily in a safety role, as the coronavirus crisis has removed other inflight offerings and services, such as a meal service.

While the airline didn’t provide details on how exactly how these arrangements would work, there hasn’t been a time in the global aviation industry in which airlines have substantially reduced flight scheduled. It’s likely that extra pilots, not scheduled to work or in danger of furlough, will be called to work flights in addition to the flight deck crew, but they will assume the normal positions of flight attendants in the passenger cabin and will be given expedited training in safety and emergency procedures.

Icelandair says it intends to talk with a “counterparty” in the Icelandic labour market on future terms for cabin crew members. Here’s the official press release from Icelandair.

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