MP's: KLM partners must help pay aid package; Pilots should take pay cuts
Dutch parliamentarians want a number of additional conditions attached to a coronavirus aid package for KLM. Groenlinks wants the airlines' financial partners to help pay for the aid package. Various parties want high-earning pilots to accept salary cuts. And a majority agrees that KLM should not pay any bonuses or dividends as long as it is dependent on state aid. GroenLinks also floated the idea of splitting up Air France-KLM if it proves easier to save two separate companies instead of one holding.
Financial partners must show their support in both good and bad times, GroenLinks parliamentarian Bart Snels said to BNR. This involves market parties that have a financial interest in KLM, like banks, oil traders, and companies that lease planes to the airline. "Now they sit back because the government will obviously save its 'blue pride'," Snels said to RTL. "But if KLM goes bankrupt, they will also lose their money."
The D66 and PvdA support the idea that other stakeholders must make a contribution. Lease companies are still earning money from renting planes to KLM, the D66 pointed out. "We are not supposed to help speculators out of the fire," PvdA MP Henk Nijboer said to RTL.
CDA, ChristenUnie and SP all agree that high-earning KLM pilots should accept a wage cut if the government steps in to save KLM. The highest paid pilots earn salaries well above 200 thousand euros, according to RTL.
"It feels uncomfortable if the state now guarantees the salaries of high-earning pilots," CDA MP Erik Ronnes said "As far as we are concerned, hard demands can be made." ChristenUnie does not consider a wage cut unreasonable, MP Eppo Bruins said.
Mahir Alkaya, of SP, added, "Why should we use public money to fund pilots who earn twice as much as the Prime Minister."
Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance is currently in talks with KLM about extra conditions for support, including a pay cut from KLM staff. Pilots union VNV said it wants to discuss this matter with KLM, but also called on politicians not to interfere in this discussion. Nevertheless, the SP will explicitly ask about pilot wages during a parliamentary debate on support for KLM on Thursday.
GroenLinks also thinks that that splitting up the Air France-KLM holding company should be considered, Snels said to BNR. Now that it is clear how difficult the collaboration is, a split scenario becomes more and more concrete, he said. "The French government supports Air France, the Dutch government supports KLM, when in fact it is one company. But in practice and in the way it works, it is a collaboration between two separate companies. Especially now that the market will not recovery quickly, it may be even easier to save two separate companies."
International cooperation is indispensable, Snels added, but that does not necessarily have to happen in one holding company. "Then the Dutch government can focus on the importance of KLM, Schiphol and the future of Dutch aviation, which is different from saving the holding company. Air France's financial position is slightly worse than KLM's, so after a split it is easier for the Dutch government to make arrangements with financial parties."