The FINANCIAL — KLM is in the midst of the worst crisis in its 101-year history, with the COVID-19 pandemic eroding its strong performance of recent years. The EUR 3.4 billion loan package, consisting of a government loan and guarantees on bank loans, is crucial to securing the future of the airline and its network for the Netherlands. KLM is very grateful to the Dutch government for its support and willingness to provide financing at this time.
The Dutch Government has made its loan package contingent on certain conditions, one being that all KLM employees must agree to surrender certain employment conditions for the duration of the loan (expected until 2025). KLM has spent the past few months hammering out the details of this austerity programme with the trade unions for cockpit, ground and cabin personnel, in line with the required structure and percentages.
The outcomes of these negotiations have been formalised in outline collective labour agreements and incorporated as such into the restructuring plan that KLM submitted to the Dutch Government on 1 October. The outline agreements define the austerity measures that will apply until early 2022 (for cockpit crews) and late 2022 (for ground and cabin personnel). It was especially important to specify the contribution that all KLM employees would be making towards the airline’s cost-reduction efforts over the entire loan period.
To meet this demand without having to re-enter negotiations, a “commitment clause” was inserted into the agreements between KLM and the trade unions. Unions CNV, De Unie, NVLT, VNC and VKP signed the clause on 31 October, with FNV Luchtvaart and FNV Cabine doing so on 2 November.
Today, 3 November, the Dutch Airline Pilots Association VNV also signed the commitment clause. KLM and the eight trade unions have therefore satisfied a key requirement, clearing the way for the Minister of Finance to assess whether the airline now meets the Dutch government’s demands.
Now that all eight trade unions have signed the commitment clause, we have taken an important step. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March this year, we have asked a lot of all our employees, but for a common purpose: to steer KLM through this crisis. These unprecedented times call for unprecedented and unusual actions. The far-reaching measures we must take and the accompanying processes and procedures are new and complex for KLM and the trade unions.
The past few days have been incredibly tense for everyone. The company has been under enormous pressure, its reputation has suffered and there have been internal divisions. In the end, however, KLM and the trade unions got through it together, and that’s really what it’s all about. We can now look forward and outward, rebuild our route network for our customers and continue to connect the world with and via the Netherlands. Together, we will honour the trust that the Dutch government has placed in us.