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No special Emirates deal for AUA pilots

Emirates manager Thierry Antinori has encouraged dissatisfied Austrian Airlines (AUA) pilots to apply.

The ex-Lufthansa board member said yesterday (Tues) every AUA pilot interested in taking on new challenges was welcome to apply for a position with his carrier. However, Antinori rejected claims that Emirates prepared special job offers for AUA’s 800 pilots. The aviation industry businessman said: "We receive a large number of applications from pilots from all over the world."

Antinori was set to become new AUA CEO around one year ago. Lufthansa – which took over the debt-stricken Austrian carrier in 2009 – presented Antinori as designated AUA chief before he announced his decision not to take over just a few days before he was due to do so. The Frenchman told Austria’s Kurier newspaper in a recent interview he pulled out after realising that certain circumstances would keep him from realising his concept at AUA.

Emirates – which is headed by Tim Clark – hopes for the green light to operate between Vienna International Airport (VIA or VIE) and Dubai International Airport (DXB) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) more often from next month when the current agreement with the Austrian traffic ministry expires. The carrier – which has achieved fast growth in the past years – currently offers 13 connections between Austria’s busiest aerodrome and DXB a week.

Emirates has underlined the positive impulses its operations give to the Austrian economy while AUA chiefs have accused the Arabian rival of illicit actions as far as employees’ rights, kerosene prices and DXB charges are concerned. Pilots working for Emirates receive higher wages than their colleagues at AUA but they are not organised in unions – in contrast to the Austrian carrier where the works council is an influential institution.

AUA unionists are currently holding talks with the airline’s board which plans to implement another savings package. Works council leaders said pilots and cabin crew must not face any further salary cuts as they have been affected by several austerity programmes since Lufthansa acquired AUA in 2009.

Lufthansa wants AUA – which suffered an operating loss of nearly 60 million Euros last year – to reduce its overall expenditure by 220 million Euros this year. AUA’s personnel costs will be reduced dramatically if AUA CEO Jaan Albrecht prevails in the negotiations with representatives of the carrier’s pilots.

People from the Arab region were responsible for around 527,000 overnight stays in Austrian hotels and guesthouses – especially in Vienna, Innsbruck and the province of Salzburg – last year. This was an increase of 29 per cent compared to the previous year. A significant number of holidaymakers are using Emirates’ services to get to Austria but AUA’s operations are in great demand too.

Figures also show that Emirates’ planes are mainly occupied by people travelling via DXB to other destinations which AUA’s flight schedule does not consider. This aspect could be a vital argument for Emirates managers in the approaching talks with Austrian Social Democratic (SPÖ) Traffic and Infrastructure Minister Doris Bures about landing rights at VIA.

Austrian Times




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