Icelandair Fires All Flights Attendants, Replaces Them With Pilots

Icelandair fires all flights attendants. Photo: Getty

Icelandair announced that it would be laying off all of its flight attendants. The island nation's flag carrier will replace flight attendants with pilots.

Icelandair announced this decision after the carrier failed to agree on a collective bargaining agreement with its labor association, ending a labor dispute with the labor union that began last month.

From 20 July onwards, the pilots of the Icelandic carrier will temporarily assume flight attendants' roles overseeing the safety of those onboard. But pilots won't be spending much time pushing carts down the aisle and handing out drinks and meals to passengers.

Services will be minimum on board. Photo: Flickr

Services "will continue to be at a minimum, as they have been since the impact of COVID-19 started, " said Icelandair spokesperson 

Regarding this, the airlines spokesperson said in a statement:

"Icelandair will permanently terminate the employment of its current cabin crew members and permanently discontinue the employment relationship between the parties." 

The cabin crew association has criticized this decision. Photo: Wikimedia

Although, the flag carrier has announced the decision, it's not clear how a pilot could effectively assume a flight attendant's role, especially with just two days' notice.

The flight attendants of Icelandair are represented by the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association. However, they had no valid contract and were in talks with the national carrier since January last year.

Unfortunately, the members of the Cabin Crew Association rejected a new collective-bargaining agreement on 8th July. Even after the results of voting was announced the carrier was in continuous talk with the association.

The airline has been operating limited flights. Photo: Boeing

But now, "it has become evident that a mutually agreed conclusion will not be reached," said Icelandair spokesperson.

Although, Icelandair has announced its decision, it's not apparent if such a replacement is legal in the regions in which Icelandair flies, including the US and the European Union.

However, the airline said:

"The Company will instruct its pilots to assume responsibility for safety on board, but services will continue to be at a minimum, as it has since the impact of COVID-19 started."

Icelandair has 11 more Boeing 737 Max on order. Photo: Getty

The Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFI) criticized the decision by Icelandair saying:

"Icelandair’s decision puts FFI in the precarious position of having to start preparations for immediate and extensive strike action. FFI is a member of the Icelandic Confederation of Labor and an international trade union and has full support for its actions. The strength of solidarity will be used with full force."

The FFI chairperson, Guolaug Liney Johannsdottir, said, "Icelandair's position and attitude in the matter is a disgrace and I have faith that the public does not take such contempt for employees silently and silently."

Icelandair had terminated Boeing 737 Max pilots. Photo: Icelandair

Starting from 20th July, six to eight pilots will staff each Icelandair flight. The airline has confirmed that all of its pilots have the required safety training. The airline also said that the pilots will be attending a short refresher course in the coming days.

Icelandair is now seeking new cabin crew. The flag carrier is reported to be in talks with staff who lost their jobs when Wow Air collapsed in 2018.

The airline is now seeking new cabin crew. Photo: Getty

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Do you think this was the only appropriate decision? Feel free to share with us in the comments below: