Norwegian established a pilot base in Copenhagen autumn 2018. Ahead of the launch the company had approached the Flight Personnel Union (FPU) for a collective work agreement (CWA) applicable for the first year, and it is now backed by the pilots who have joined forces and formed an association.
At the recently held founding meeting, captain Peter Larsen was elected as chairman and employee-representative for the soon to be 180 pilots at the base. He is now ready to initiate the union-work:
“In the coming period we will prepare the forthcoming collective bargaining. We will reach out to our members for their opinion on what is important in their work life. The first collective agreement was made as a one-year agreement, and now it is up to us to to put our own mark on it,” says Peter Larsen, spokes person on behalf of the pilots.
He will be accompanied by vice chairman Ole Sønderlund, Sebastian Riveiro, treasurer Dion Pedersen and and deputy Johannes Fritzin.
Peter Larsen has not previously been active in union work, but as a pilot he draws on several years of experience. He started his career as a pilot in 2001 in the United States. In 2003, he returned to Europe and a job in Ryanair before entering the cockpit of Norwegian in 2012.
The best partner for Norwegian
The new long-haul pilot-association is an affiliate under the FPU and has taken the name “Norwegian Long Haul Pilot Union”. The newly elected chairman describes the pilot-association as the absolute best partner for Norwegian:
“Our legitimacy lies in the great support we have from our members, and it is important to us. A strong support for us is also in the company’s interest, as a good representation among the pilots gives satisfied employees, and this creates loyalty,” he says and hopes for a good dialogue with the management:
“The management agreed on a collective work agreement before they opened the base. We have to work to maintain this good relationship, so we achieve success – together.”
From Copenhagen to the world
Norwegian’s long-haul base in Copenhagen operates the company’s fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which serves the long-haul network to the US, Asia and most recently South America.
“From Copenhagen, we cover most of the long-haul production out of Scandinavia, and part of the production from airports in the rest of the EU,” says Dion Pedersen captain and treasurer of Norwegian Long Haul Pilot Union:
“A work week typically starts from an airport in Scandinavia, it could be Copenhagen. From there the trip goes to New York, then return across the Atlantic to e.g. Madrid, where there is no pilot base, back to New York and then home to Scandinavia.”
Part of a strong network
The base in Copenhagen has created the opportunity for many Scandinavian Norwegian-pilots to return home or at least closer to home, friends and family, and not least the possibility of flying long-haul routes:
“The long-haul pilot-job is a lifestyle, because you are away from home and because of the subsequent off days. In the short haul production I flew previously, you are home every night, in Norwegian Long Haul you are away up to 20 days a month. So as a Scandinavian, the long-distance base in Copenhagen is fantastic,” Dion Pedersen concludes.
As a part of the FPU, the Norwegian long-distance pilots stand together with the rest of the pilots in Denmark. In addition, they become part of the Trade Union Confederation FH, where the rest of the aviation-employees in Denmark stand united.
“Now the pilots have an association that grows day by day. The next few months we hope to get all the new pilots to join their local branch, so we stand as strong as possible for the next collective bargaining,” says Thilde Waast, FPU-president and continues:
“The Norwegian employees become part of a bigger aviation-community, and can thus draw on their colleagues at the airport, and use the tools that the Danish Model offers.”