Espen Høiby, CEO of crew management company OSM Aviation, entered the lion’s den when he visited the Parat union’s aviation conference at Gardermoen on Friday.
“We’re concerned to have a dialogue with the unions,” Høiby told the meeting close to Oslo’s main airport. “We are putting the conflicts behind us, and invite you to sit down and talk with us.”
Part-owned by airline Norwegian, OSM supplies pilots and cabin crew to a number of airlines both in Norway and internationally. Many of its employees are Parat members, and a number of conference participants reported difficulties in achieving dialogue with the company.
In his address to the meeting, Høiby emphasised that permanent employment will be the general rule for OSM.
“Having only permanent staff will be essential if we’re going to have a future in this industry,” he said. “You’ll have the same terms as if you were working for an airline, and the same pay even if you’re waiting for an assignment.
“We’ll take that risk. To have a future, we must take care of our employees. We won’t have a good product to deliver if we aren’t a good employer. We’ll be the best there.”
He did not deny that relations between OSM and the unions have been difficult. One of the allegations he took exception to was the claim that this type of crewing solution was at the expense of safety on board.
“Why should this be less safe than in the actual airline?” he asked. “I’m confident that a pilot will do the same safe job regardless of where he’s employed. That’s a question of professional integrity.”
“What we’re doing is to create new opportunities, particularly for those who’re young and want greater flexibility,” Høiby told the conference. “We’re the first to plough this furrow, and some challenges are bound to arise along the way.
“If we don’t keep up with developments, we’re going to be left behind. I hope that you in the unions will participate in managing this change, and that we can jointly discuss how we can implement it rather than fighting with each other.”
He welcomed the unions to