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Expatriate pilots amongst 700-odd Fiji Airways staff to have contracts terminated

May 25, 2020 4:48 pm
All 79 expatriate pilots with Fiji Airways are amongst those staff who have had their contracts terminated because of the impact COVID-19 has had on the airline.

All expatriate pilots with Fiji Airways are amongst those staff who have had their contracts terminated.

The national airline says eight expatriate executives have also had their employment terminated along with 758 employees from across the airline group who do not have work today or in the foreseeable future.

The airline has six local executives, who will all retain their jobs and now constitute the majority of the leadership team.

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It says the responsibilities of the remaining executives and management have been expanded to absorb the work of those terminated.

The staff being let go will be paid a minimum notice period of one month, plus any accumulated leave and other entitlements.

A 20% permanent salary reduction has been implemented for all retained employees effective from June 1.

In the short term, retained staff will work between 2-5 days per week, and will only be paid for actual days or hours worked.

Employees will be permitted to utilize annual leave days on days not worked, in order to top up their weekly pay.

Fiji Airways Managing Director and Chief Executive, Andre Viljoen, says the adjustments are necessary and unavoidable as the COVID-19 crisis endures, causing the further suspension of scheduled international services and ensuring that the airline will receive virtually zero revenue in the coming months.

He says Fiji Airways is also negotiating with its lenders and aircraft lessors for loan and lease payment deferrals, and arranging debt finance from a number of financial institutions.

Viljoen says this a very difficult announcement, and one that has been made only making after exhausting all other options.

Viljoen goes on to say that when the first flight suspensions were announced in March 2020, they implemented a series of actions aimed at taking them through the April to June period, in the hope that the crisis would abate and some level of demand would return.

He says most of the workforce agreed to a temporary 30-35% pay reduction at that time but, regrettably, all of the international passenger services remain suspended, and it is simply not sustainable to continue to pay staff who are at home and not working, even at reduced salary levels.

Other major airline such as Air New Zealand, which also operates to Fiji, has also laid off its staff.

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