A Finnair Airbus A3221 parked on the tarmac.
Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Finnair cancels 100 flights departing from Helsinki due cabin crew strike

LONDON – Finland flag carrier Finnair was forced to cancel up to 100 flights departing from Helsinki as cabin crew personnel went on what the airline described as an “illegal strike”.

The strike action

The Finnish Transport Workers’ Union AKT announced that they would be having a strike which would take place between November 20 at 15:00 and November 21 at 15:00, according to a statement which was released by Finnair.

As Finnair rerouted passengers affected by the strike, Jaakko Schildt, Finnair COO, said that it was “sad that the labor union has chosen the path of an illegal strike instead of negotiations”.  

“Throughout the autumn we have discussed savings possibilities with the unions, but unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve a result with cabin crew. We still hope to find solutions together,” Schildt added.  

Prior to the strike, Finnair had negotiated with all its employee groups on savings needed to restore Finnair’s profitability, after suffering “considerable losses and becoming indebted during the Covid-19 pandemic”, the airline noted.   

Russian airspace closure


The airline explained that the closure of Russian airspace has also significantly impacted Finnair’s ability to generate profit.  

“The primary goal has been to find cost-reducing solutions together with Finnair employees. For cabin crew, Finnair proposed changes for example to crew utilization efficiency, layover hotel rules, and to additional pay-per-hour rules for long flights, as the closure of Russian airspace has made the flight times to Asia considerably longer.”

“As no agreement was found with the cabin crew, Finnair must look at alternative measures. Last week, Finnair announced it starts to change negotiations on plans to increase subcontracting of cabin service on long-haul routes,” the Finnair statement read.  

The strike does not affect flights operated by Norra, nor flights whose cabin service is provided by Finnair’s partners, such as flights to Singapore and India, or flights operated by other airlines’ aircraft and crew, for example to Barcelona and Madrid. 

The list of the flights that were to be affected was also published. Some of the key flights that were cancelled are shown below.

Flight cancellations 20 November 2022
  • Helsinki – London (AY1337) & London – Helsinki (AY1338) 
  • Helsinki – London (AY1339) 
  • Helsinki – Amsterdam (AY1305) & Amsterdam – Helsinki (AY1306) 
  • Helsinki – Milano (AY1755) & Milano – Helsinki (AY1756) 
  • Helsinki – Oulu (AY441) & Oulu – Helsinki (AY442) 
  • Helsinki – Oulu (AY445) & Oulu – Helsinki (AY446) 
  • Helsinki – Oulu (AY449) 
  • Helsinki – Oulu (AY455) & Oulu – Helsinki (AY456) 
  • Helsinki – Stockholm Arlanda (AY813) & Stockholm Arlanda – Helsinki (AY814) 
  • Helsinki – Stockholm Arlanda (AY819) & Stockholm Arlanda – Helsinki (AY820) 
Flight cancellations 21 November 2022
  • Helsinki – Bangkok (AY141)
  • Bangkok – Helsinki (AY146)
  • Helsinki – London (AY1331) & London – Helsinki (AY1332)
  • Helsinki – London (AY1335)  & London – Helsinki (AY1336)
  • London – Helsinki (AY1340)
  • Incheon – Helsinki (AY42)
  • Haneda – Helsinki (AY62)
  • Helsinki – Oulu (AY431) & Oulu – Helsinki (AY432)
  • Helsinki – Oulu (AY433) & Oulu – Helsinki (AY434)
  • Helsinki – Oulu (AY435) & Oulu – Helsinki (AY436)
Flight cancellations 22 November 2022
  • Bangkok – Helsinki (AY142)
  • Dubai – Helsinki (AY1964) 

Irony

Airlines are businesses, that’s a fact. What also is a fact is that as a business, they are obviously trying to generate as much profit as possible. What they however try to do is justify anything that goes wrong with them, if it’s their fault or not, with the excuse of not being able to generate profit or not.

If you know that the chance of a strike will increase, then you as a business should do something about it to prevent a strike from eventuating. Not doing so will only make your staff more disappointed in you and will possibly increase the chances of a strike action.

The news of the cabin crew strike came at the same time that the airline announced the cutting of 150 jobs, as part of its plan to return to profitability. Russian airspace closures were cited as a key operational factor.

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