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Our View: Pilots have a nerve to criticise CY management

CYPRUS Airways pilots union PASYPI held a news conference on Wednesday to complain that ministers and the airline’s board did not take the necessary steps needed for the company to become viable and thus meet the five requirements set by the European Commission.

They did not explain what these steps should have been, but the pilots have not exactly helped the drive for viability by suing the company on the grounds that the cuts it imposed on their salaries were illegal. The company had cut all staff’s wages in 2005, but whereas the rest of the unions representing the airline’s workers accepted these, PASYPI never agreed to them. The labour court ruled this week that the cuts in pay and benefits of the pilots had been implemented without the consent of the members of PASYPI and were therefore illegal.

Now the company will be obliged to pay the total amounts cut from every pilot’s salary since 2005 plus interest. Presumably, burdening the company with additional costs is the pilots’ contribution to the effort to make the airline viable. It is astonishing that the pilots, by far the best rewarded employees of the airline and among the highest paid in the industry, were not willing to give up a small part of their fat salaries to help their company survive, but have the nerve to accuse the board and the government for not taking the necessary steps for viability.

The PASYPI president Petros Souppouris claimed that €100 million injected by the state had been lost, the implication being the amount had not been used for the company’s needs. He blamed the senior management team for big blunders and demanded the investigation into the goings-on at the company be made public. As if to underline the pilots’ naive thinking, Souppouris claimed that his union was in favour of privatisation and the arrival of a strategic investor who would help develop the airline, which was unable to deal with the competition in the last 10 years.

It did not cross Souppouris’ or his colleagues’ minds that one of the main reasons CY was uncompetitive were the unjustifiably high salaries it was paying its pilots and other staff. Nor does it occur to them that a strategic investor would not keep paying them the princely salaries they secured when all the unions were plundering the airline with the help of the politicians and their appointees on the board.

Bad management, political meddling, greedy unions and self-serving directors all contributed to the bankrupting of the airline and the pilots have a nerve to criticise management when they were not even willing to give up a small fraction of their fat salaries to help the company.

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