Martinair Pilots Take KLM to Court Over Refusal of Re-employment

Approximately 185 Martinair pilots are to be sacked due to the downsizing of Air France-KLM’s freighter fleet and have taken legal action to force KLM to take them in.

The days of Martinair’s MD-11Fs are numbered  /  company courtesy
The days of Martinair’s MD-11Fs are numbered / company courtesy

Only 3 freighters will remain in Air France-KLM’s fleet by 2016, which will make 110 pilots redundant. Job opportunities in other airlines are in no way comparable to the terms of employment they have enjoyed at Martinair, so the pilots say. According to the daily ‘De Volkskrant’ they consider moving to one of the Middle East companies as ‘working in a sandbox’.

The pilots claim that the sole aim of the present lawsuit is to demonstrate through legal procedures that on 1 January 2014 KLM presented the prospect that Martinair would be integrated into KLM. Be that Martinair and KLM are one and the same company, the pilots think they are entitled to a similar alternative at the mother company. 

No union support
However, last March KLM said that transferring the former Martinair pilots to KLM under the same terms of employment would cost the company10 to 15 million euros more than compulsory redundancy. Instead of hiring the more experienced but also more expensive Martinair pilots, KLM prefers to recruit inexperienced, cheaper graduates from its own aviation school.

The Martinair pilots are in no way supported by the Dutch pilots union VNV (Vereniging Nederlandse Verkeersvliegers) which, on the contrary, has forbidden KLM –by way of an earlier court order - to recruit former Martinair pilots. Former pilots of the Martinair passenger services, who did make the transfer to the mother company, are suing KLM as well anyway. Even if they were guaranteed the same salary conditions, they would have to come at a lower rank. Their principal demand is promotion.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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