KLM boss: No pay raises, will invest €2 billion in aircraft

KLM's new Dreamliner Boeing 787 boarding for its first flight on Sunday, Nov 22nd, 2015 (Photo: @WandrMe/Twitter)KLM's new Dreamliner Boeing 787 boarding for its first flight on Sunday, Nov 22nd, 2015 (Photo: @WandrMe/Twitter)

KLM CEO Pieter Elbers thinks it currently more important to invest in new aircraft and equipment than to increase wages for the airline's employees, he said in an internal webcast for employees that Het Parool managed to see. The airline wants to invest another 2 billion euros over the next four years, but that will not go towards wage increases.

"When I walk through the company and I see Boeing 747's that are 26 years old, buses of 10 years old and computers from the stone age, then it is time to invest in renovating the company", Het Parool quotes Elbers from the video. "The only way to do that is if we have money to invest. That goes beyond the wage increase of people."

According to Elbers, KLM is no longer the largest airline in the world and has to stay competitive through innovation.

The CEO refers to union FNV's attempt for strikes to force a wage increase, among other things. There's no room for that, Elbers said. "We're holding to the zero line until 2018. 1 percent pay rise would cost us millions."

He also talked about the disagreement with pilots union VNV over replenishing deficits in pilots' and cabin crew's pensions. According to Elbers, doing so would jeopardize KLM. "We must ensure that we do not put the company at risk by depositing hundreds of millions in such a fund." Elbers emphasized that the agreement for additional contributions is 15 years old and that KLM can not afford it at the moment.