On Friday February 24th, Brussels Airlines’ management and unions reached an agreement on pilots’ salaries, union sources said. The threat of a strike that had been announced in early February is now dissipated. According to Belga news agency, some discontent reigned among the pilots who had agreed to a salary effort during the pandemic to allow the airline to cross the strong turbulence of the pandemic. In concrete terms, part of the salary had been converted into a “cafeteria” plan, a series of extra-legal benefits.
In 2020, the unions reached a collective labour agreement which included a clause known at the “cafeteria plan”, which entailed that pilots would receive 30 percent of their wages through the cafeteria plan. The agreement was negotiated in the framework of “Reboot Plus” plan, which had to be laid down in an attempt to return to profitability.
The cafeteria plan has never been indexed.Jolinde Defieuw, delegate of the Flemish Christian union
In early February of this years, the unions denounced that the cafeteria plan has not been indexed, especially after the war in Ukraine has unleashed high energy costs and inflation across Europe. The proposal to index the “cafeteria plan” had not received much support from management.
Management and unions have nevertheless found a solution, confirmed Tim Roelandt, from the liberal union. Concessions are planned to compensate for the loss of purchasing power of the pilots. The agreement has effectively avoided the risk of a strike.
The leadership at Brussels Airlines has recently undergone important changes. On Tuesday January 31st, the Belgian airline announced that its CEO, Peter Gerber, was stepping down with immediate effect. Former CEO Christina Foerster has stepped up as interim CEO until further decisions are made.
As of February 1st, Gerber is CEO of German airline Condor. He sat as Brussels Airlines’ top executive for just under two years, from March 2021 until end of January 2023. “A long-term successor to Peter Gerber will be announced as soon as possible,” Brussels Airlines said in a press release.