Transavia strike over; most passengers will still fly today, says CEO

A Transavia jet at Schiphol airport
A Transavia jet at Schiphol airportPhoto: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

A strike held by Transavia pilots at airports in the Netherlands ended at noon. Now the airline will focus on carrying out as many of the flights scheduled for Monday as possible, so that most passengers can still reach their destination today, Transavia CEO Mattijs ten Brink said according to ANP.

Exactly how many people will still fly today, is not clear. Around 7 thousand passengers were affected by the strike. Customers who can not get on a flight for Monday, will be offered an alternative flight in the coming days. A number of travelers also decided to cancel their Transavia flight and seek alternatives themselves.

The pilots were striking for better working conditions in their new collective bargaining agreement. They've been working without such an agreement for 14 months. Union VNV demands a more stable duty roster for the pilots, a modest wage increase, and an occupational disability regulation. 

The strike did not lead to long queues of angry passengers at Schiphol, Eindhoven or Rotterdam The Hague airports, according to the news wire. Most passengers were informed by Transavia on time. 

Nevertheless, there were some passengers who ended up spending hours at the airport. Such as Sienie and Truus, who were set fly to Barcelona at 7:00 a.m. from where they would leave for a cruise. Their flight was delayed to 1:15 p.m. "It is completely unclear whether we will arrive on time. We are afraid that our cruise will not happen. Extremely annoying", Siene said to RTL Nieuws.

Vangelis Chalkias, whose flight from Schiphol to Greece was delayed from 7:00 a.m. to 1:40 p.m., understands the timing of the strike - on the first day of the February holidays for the south of the Netherlands. "If you strike in the holiday, you immediately make a point of course", he said to newspaper AD. "The pilots strike because they have to work too hard, but I also have to work hard and just wanted to get away for eight days. Now my trip is almost a day shorter. Anyway, I won't let that spoil my trip. I'll first have a cup of coffee here and still lie in the sun in Greece later today."

The strike got the pilots' message through to Transavia at least, VNV chairman Arthur van den Hudding said after a conversation with CEO Ten Brink on Monday, the Telegraaf reports. According to Van den Hudding, Ten Brink now understands better where the pilots' dissatisfaction comes from. He stressed that this strike was only about the balance between work and private life, not about higher wages.

"When we spoke to each other this weekend, he put a bag of money on the table. But now the penny has dropped that its not about that", Van den Hudding said to the newspaper. The union is willing to quickly restart negotiations with Transavia. "We announced this strike last week in the hope that it would eventually be unnecessary. Whether it stays with this once, depends to a large extent on the management's position."