Finnair Oyj, Finland’s biggest airline, canceled a fifth of all flights in preparation for a pilots’ strike tomorrow over the use of subcontractor crews in cockpits.
About 40 flights were grounded today, said spokeswoman Maria Mroue in a telephone interview. Code share flights operated by other airlines are not affected, Vantaa, Finland- based Finnair said on its Web site today.
The argument with pilots centers over two aircraft Finnair is renting to Finnish Commuter Airlines Oy as subdued demand leaves its planes empty. Finnair doesn’t consider this outsourcing. The pilots, whose collective agreement expired a year ago, yesterday rejected a mediation proposal by the government, the third attempt to end the row since 2008.
Finnair canceled all long-haul flights from Helsinki as well as some European and domestic connections to avoid leaving planes stranded at foreign airports. Cancelations affect the travel plans of about 5,500 passengers today, Mroue said. Finnair is deciding whether to operate two flights to Bangkok today, spokesman Taneli Hassinen said.
The strike will cost the carrier between 2.5 million euros ($3.73 million) and 5 million euros each day, Hassinen said yesterday. So far, Finnair’s losses from the dispute amount to 1 million euros, Mroue said.
The airline aims to run all leisure flights, which are mostly flown for customers of travel agencies to destinations such as the Canary Islands and Phuket in Thailand. Leisure flights brought in 74.6 million euros in the third quarter, or about 17 percent of Finnair’s total three-month sales.
Finnair has been unprofitable for five consecutive quarters, posting a 20.7 million-euro net loss in the three months through September. Finnair shares have dropped 21 percent this year, valuing the carrier, which is 56 percent owned by the state, at 496 million euros.
Finnair recommends passengers postpone their trip. It has also offered to refund the cost of unused tickets or reroute passengers on other airlines.