Air Transat flight attendants agree to mid-contract wage freeze

Airline will ‘catch up’ on salary increases at end of 2015: Union

Air Transat flight attendants have agreed to temporarily freeze their wages to help the financially-struggling airline balance the books.

The Air Transat component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents the airline’s 1,800 flight attendants, says 83 per cent of its membership voted in favour of the initiative.

Under the agreement, three annual wage increases of one per cent will be eliminated, along with a planned lump sum payment of 1.5 per cent.

The company will “catch up” on the salary increases and pay back the money owed by Dec. 15, 2015, according to the union.

“The flight attendants have decided by a strong majority that this plan speaks to the best interests of everyone involved," said Peter Buzzell, president of the Air Transat Component of CUPE. “Today, members of our union are showing support for their employer and faith in its future.”

The union representing Air Transat’s 420 pilots agreed to a similar plan with the airline on May 1. As part of that agreement, three years of scheduled increases were deferred into lump-sum payments upon the expiry of the pilots’ union’s collective agreement on April 30, 2015. The payments, however, are conditional on the attainment of "certain financial targets."

The flight attendants' current contract began on Nov. 1, 2010 and will expire on Oct. 31, 2015.

Air Transat, which competes with WestJet Airlines' WestJet Vacations, Air Canada's Air Canada Vacations, and Sunwing Vacations, launched a return-to-profit plan late last year.

As part of the three-year plan, Air Transat laid off 115 employees to save $10 million a year.

The company's class B shares are down some 37 percent so far this year.

The company lost $12.2 million in 2011.

— with files from Reuters

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