OA hits more trouble

Olympic Airways was set for further trouble for the rest of this week as flight attendants called a series of strikes from midnight through Friday, after talks with management fell through. Their union was also angered by management’s decision to suspend pay for 50 members and to seek damages of 5 million euros for profits lost during the four-day strike that ended yesterday. «Having come to no solution, we will continue with two rolling 48-hour strikes from midnight tonight,» Taxiarhis Christou, president of the cabin crews’ union, EISF, said last night. The airline’s management announced the cancellation of 15 of today’s 85 scheduled flights. Over the previous four days, 94 of 405 scheduled flights had to be cancelled because of the flight attendants’ strike. Just one flight to New York was estimated to have cost the airline 800,000 euros in lost revenues. An Athenian court had ruled the strike illegal on Thursday but cabin crews went ahead with it anyway, a decision that could lead to sanctions against them. Management now wants 5 million euros compensation from 50 union members and the 11 officials on the union’s board. The 50 union members whose pay has been suspended have not been fired. But the attendants’ union has warned that any dismissals will lead to an indefinite strike. That would create havoc for the troubled company’s finances, especially if it included the Christmas season. Yesterday was supposed to be the first day of operations of Olympic Airlines, the trimmer successor of Olympic Airways. But with the labor turmoil, the new airline’s debut has been delayed indefinitely. Flight attendants charge that whereas pilots are receiving lucrative buyout offers and pay hikes to join the new airline, they are being forced to accept pay cuts as Olympic tries to reinvent itself before a 51-percent stake is sold to a private investor. The new airline will employ 1,800 people, while the rest of the 6,100 employees will stay behind in the old company and offer services to the new one. EISF says that there are 576 flight attendants at Olympic. It wants them to be paid 21 million euros annually of the 23.5 million they were receiving, while management has offered 19 million. Management is asking for 48 hours of work per week while EISF wants 40 hours. Also, management wants 8-member cabin crews on large Airbus jets while the union wants 10.