Turkey tells airlines in slump to consider firing foreign staff first
Turkey’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (SHGM) wrote to 10 operators, including flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, proposing that foreign pilots and cabin crew be sacked before local workers as the COVID-19 destroys demand and jobs in the industry, Bloomberg said on Friday.
Turkish carriers had previously recruited large numbers of foreign staff, with the proportion of overseas crew reaching 11 percent, the SHGM said in the letter, which Bloomberg said it had seen a copy of.
The SHGM’s letter to airlines says authorities want to reduce the proportion of foreign staff in the aviation industry so that Turkish nationals are no longer at a disadvantage. It said the process would be gradual, with “minimal impact to current operations”.
Turkish unions are also calling on carriers to employ more Turkish staff, as the pandemic pushes Turkish unemployment close to 13 percent.
“If needed, the recruitment of foreign staff should be reduced and that of our citizens, and their income, should be protected,” the union Hava-Sen, which represents 1,500 airline industry workers, told the SHGM on May 29.
The union said the state has a “national duty to use our resources effectively and efficiently during the economic crisis,” and that it is further necessitated by “discrimination” toward Turkish citizens by European Union nations.
Turkish Airlines has clashed with unions over proposals to halve pilot wages and cut salaries for other staff members to help shore up its finances during the pandemic.
Although Turkish Airlines has grown into a major industry player, serving more countries than any other carrier, it is especially exposed to an ongoing collapse in long-haul travel due to COVID-19, Bloomberg said.