Austrian Airlines seeks Thai flight attendants

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Austrian Airlines NaritaAustria’s national carrier Austrian Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is planning to set up a training base for flight attendant from Thailand, media in Vienna reported.

While the airline says the move aims at “internationalising” its flight crew, the firm’s employee organisation suspects that the real reason behind the plans is to reduce staff costs on the carriers long-haul route to Bangkok. Similar bases are being planned in New Delhi and Beijing. Altogether, 80 out of 230 new flight attendents will be recruited abroad, the airline said on October 21.

The Austrian market for flight attendants only provides between 100 and 150 people, Austrian Airlines said. Therefore it had to recruit the rest it needs from other countries.

“70 per cent of our passengers are international and we want to serve them by international staff,” said Austrian Airlines spokesman Peter Thier.

However, Karl Minhard, head of the airline’s employee organisation, is of different opinion.

“The airline just wants cheap flight attendants and tries to undermine the new wage agreement we are currently negotiating with the management,” he argues.

“It’s a lie that they want to provide international staff for international passengers – especially on the Vienna-Bangkok route most of the passengers are Austrians and European rather than Asians, let alone Thais,” he added.

Flight attendant has been a highly sought-after an well-paid job until the 1990s, but after the emergence of low-cost airlines and due to severe cost pressures felt by established, airlines the image of the profession has suffered to the same extent as salaries were shrinking.

More and more newly recruited flight attendants are getting shirt-time contracts or are even hired as just seasonal workers or temporary staff, many of them being students. The initial salary for flight attendants at European airlines is a meagre $1,800 a month in average before tax and social security deductions. Gulf airlines are normally paying 30 per cent more as a tax-free salary, but there are no social security or pension fund options.

In comparison, a flight attendant with AirAsia gets paid a combination of basic salary, allowances and incentives. The basic salary (in Malaysia) is $320 a month, plus $3.20 per flight hour, plus $6.40 per flight sector and another $3.30 per hour as “performance incentive”, which is paid, for example, if an employee does not call in sick.

In average, well-performing AirAsia attendants can earn $60 in allowances and incentives per day, so their total pay can exceed $1,500 a month before tax and social security deductions.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Austria’s national carrier Austrian Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is planning to set up a training base for flight attendant from Thailand, media in Vienna reported.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Austrian Airlines NaritaAustria’s national carrier Austrian Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is planning to set up a training base for flight attendant from Thailand, media in Vienna reported.

While the airline says the move aims at “internationalising” its flight crew, the firm’s employee organisation suspects that the real reason behind the plans is to reduce staff costs on the carriers long-haul route to Bangkok. Similar bases are being planned in New Delhi and Beijing. Altogether, 80 out of 230 new flight attendents will be recruited abroad, the airline said on October 21.

The Austrian market for flight attendants only provides between 100 and 150 people, Austrian Airlines said. Therefore it had to recruit the rest it needs from other countries.

“70 per cent of our passengers are international and we want to serve them by international staff,” said Austrian Airlines spokesman Peter Thier.

However, Karl Minhard, head of the airline’s employee organisation, is of different opinion.

“The airline just wants cheap flight attendants and tries to undermine the new wage agreement we are currently negotiating with the management,” he argues.

“It’s a lie that they want to provide international staff for international passengers – especially on the Vienna-Bangkok route most of the passengers are Austrians and European rather than Asians, let alone Thais,” he added.

Flight attendant has been a highly sought-after an well-paid job until the 1990s, but after the emergence of low-cost airlines and due to severe cost pressures felt by established, airlines the image of the profession has suffered to the same extent as salaries were shrinking.

More and more newly recruited flight attendants are getting shirt-time contracts or are even hired as just seasonal workers or temporary staff, many of them being students. The initial salary for flight attendants at European airlines is a meagre $1,800 a month in average before tax and social security deductions. Gulf airlines are normally paying 30 per cent more as a tax-free salary, but there are no social security or pension fund options.

In comparison, a flight attendant with AirAsia gets paid a combination of basic salary, allowances and incentives. The basic salary (in Malaysia) is $320 a month, plus $3.20 per flight hour, plus $6.40 per flight sector and another $3.30 per hour as “performance incentive”, which is paid, for example, if an employee does not call in sick.

In average, well-performing AirAsia attendants can earn $60 in allowances and incentives per day, so their total pay can exceed $1,500 a month before tax and social security deductions.

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