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With few aircraft to fly, Norwegian’s Boeing 787 Gatwick crews asked to slash hours or take unpaid leave

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This isn’t our usual sort of Head for Points story, but with loyalty news slim over the Bank Holiday weekend I thought you would find this an interesting addition.

Behind most stories we run on HFP about new airlines routes, closed routes, new hotels or major changes to loyalty programmes is some sort of human cost.  We rarely think about it, but it is there, going on in the background.

A few days ago we ran a story about major long-haul changes by Norwegian at Gatwick.  The following long-haul routes are being handed over to third-party airlines for the short term:

Gatwick to New York JFK (DI7013/14) – Evelop Airlines using an A330-300

Gatwick to Orlando – Hi-Fly using an A340-300

Gatwick to Miami – Privilege Style using a Boeing 777-200

Gatwick to Chicago – Wamos Air using an A330-200

Gatwick to Denver – Wamos Air using an A330-200

None of this is Norwegian’s fault, except at a strategic level.  It based its entire long-haul plans around the Boeing 787 – theoretically a low running cost long-haul aircraft – and the bulk of the Rolls-Royce powered Boeing 787-9 fleet is now grounded due to serious engine defects.

Wamos, Privilege Style etc are ‘wet leasing’ aircraft to Norwegian.  This means that the aircraft come with their own flight crew.  It couldn’t work any other way, since Norwegian long-haul crew are not trained to operate A330, A340 or Boeing 777 aircraft.

This means that Norwegian has a lot of Boeing 787 flight crew at Gatwick who have just drawn a very short straw.

Norwegian cabin crew asked to slash hours

Gatwick-based Boeing 787 crew were emailed last week with the following options.  Note that these are only ‘options’, and there is no guarantee that any individual crew member will receive the option they select.  They are all unpalatable to anyone with bills to pay.  I have made minor edits below for the sake of clarity.

Option 1 – Leave of absence without pay

  • Available for a period of 3 months, 6 months or 9 months only
  • Use of your benefits such as ID travel will be maintained throughout this period
  • You can work for other companies throughout this period, but not competitors of OSM Aviation and Norwegian
  • Annual leave will continue to be accrued

Option 2 – Career break

  • Available for a 12-month period only
  • No entitlement to your benefits such as ID travel throughout this period
  • You can work for other companies during your career break, including competitors of OSM Aviation and Norwegian
  • This will be considered as a resignation from your employment with a guaranteed re-entry after the 12-month period
  • You will maintain continuity of service/seniority on return

Option 3 – Month on / month off

  • You will work every second month, and be off every other month
  • You will not be able to swap shifts to work on your off month
  • You will be paid 100% salary each month you work (which is paid in the current month as normal) and all variables will be paid a month in arrears
  • All contractual benefits including vacation will be pro-rata’d and based on the period of months worked
  • Available for a 6-month period only
  • Start of month off will be June or July – this will be allocated and not optional

Option 4 – 75% temporary part-time roster

  • Available for a 6-month period only
  • Fully flexible roster
  • 16 working days / 14 days off per month
  • Your basic salary will be pro-rata to the percentage
  • All contractual benefits, including phone allowance, vacation allowance are pro-rata

Option 5 – 50% temporary part-time roster

  • Available for a 6-month period only
  • Fully flexible roster
  • 11 working days / 19 days off per month
  • Your basic salary will be pro-rata to the percentage
  • All contractual benefits, including phone allowance, vacation allowance are pro-rata

Norwegian cabin crew asked to slash hours

Crew are only allowed to select one option – it is not clear what happens if a crew member does not select an option or that option is refused.

For clarity, Norwegian had little choice here.  The airline is struggling financially and it has a few hundred UK cabin crew with no aircraft for them to fly until the end of 2019.   The Boeing 787 engine saga has a real human cost.

Comments (70)

  • Rooster says:

    I can’t see the 737 max even when ungrounded to be accepted knowingly by by passengers so the long term effects will likely be worse. Zero chance their problems fixed or not will I travel on that model of plane ever.

  • IanMac says:

    I was not targeted for the Hilton 3x offer but registered anyway – and my registration was successful.
    Interestingly, the successful registration web page says that the offer runs to March 2020 !!

  • D Cumming says:

    on Hilton Honors points…. does anyone have a click through list of all the 10,000 point hotels, now that there are no longer any 5000 point redemptions?