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Photo courtesy of Felix Gottwald

“Atypical” Employment of Pilots on

the Rise in Europe - IFALPA’s Analysis

The European Cockpit Association (ECA) recently organized a conference in Paris where issues
regarding the Atypical Employment in Aviation were raised and discussed. IFALPA attended the
conference and provides InterPilot with an analysis.

n alarming number of pilots in Europe standard open-ended direct labour contract atypical pilot employment. In low fare airlines,
Aare working with no direct link to the with an airline. This includes self-employed 16.7% of pilots fly via a temporary
airline they actually fly for, with airlines, pilots, fixed-term contracts or contractual employment agency, 15.3% are self-employed
especially in the low fares sector, drawing agreements via temporary work agencies, and 11.0% are employed by their own
significantly upon a “casualised” workforce. zero-hours contracts and pay-to-fly schemes. company, vs. 1.7%, 0.6%, and 0.4% at network
This is one of the main findings of new The study shows that atypical employment carriers and 1.3%, 2.9% and 1.1% for regional
research carried out by the University of Ghent is largely a phenomenon of low fares sector. carriers
(Belgium) and funded by the European Hence, only 52.6% of low fare airline pilots fly
Commission. The results come as no surprise under regular employment contracts, SOCIAL INSECURITY
to industry insiders. compared to 96.5% for network carriers and The fact that companies are increasingly
92.7% for regional airlines. However, some low shopping for “cheap” labour has sparked
ONE PILOT OUT OF SIX IS “ATYPICAL” fare airlines (LFAs) seem to be able to compete worries across the aviation community. One of
EMPLOYEE without having to resort to such employment the main problems of these constructions is
One of the pillars of the academic research was practices. The portion of pilots flying under a that to a certain extent outsourcing comes
a survey among over 6,600 pilots flying for direct contract with their airline is 88% at down to avoiding applicable legislation in
Europe’s major carriers, including Air France easyJet, in comparison to 49% at Wizz Air, 34% terms of social security and tax legislation to
KLM, SAS, EasyJet, Norwegian, Lufthansa, at Ryanair, and 30% at Norwegian. the detriment of pilots and responsible airlines.
Ryanair, etc. While the majority of surveyed Employment via a temporary agency and For pilots, “atypical” employment often
pilots (79%) still has a direct employment self-employment, as well as employment via a means no clear idea where they should pay
contract with the airline they fly for, a growing company owned or co-owned by the pilot taxes and social security contributions. For
number of pilots are “atypically” employed. (often a limited liability company, which example, in 2013, the homes of a number of
The research defines as “atypical” all types of provides piloting services exclusively to one pilots based in Germany and working for a low
employment which are different from the airline) are the most prevalent forms of such fares airline have been raided by the authorities
InterPilot | The Safety and Technical Journal of IFALPA ISSUE 2 | 2015
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