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AVIORADAR - Croatian aviation website

Impact of COVID-19 epidemic on the workers rights in Croatian aviation

Written by B.H./N.S..

Avioradar

 

We were interested in how the current pandemic affects the wages and rights of domestic aviation workers.
On this occasion, we have sent an inquiry to aviation organizations in Croatia. We asked Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (CCAA), Croatian Air Traffic Control (CROCONTROL), the national airline Croatia Airlines and the airports, which rights have been reduced, whether there was a reduction in wages or layoffs, whether new employments have been postponed and whether some planned projects and investments were suspended. 


In response, CCAA states that it is closely monitoring and analyzing the financial situation, including the decrease in revenues due to the decline in air traffic intensity in the past few months, but also notes the recovery and resumption of air traffic since June. In accordance with the analysis of all parameters, the Agency will, if needed, make decisions related to the rights and salaries of employees.
Also, they pointed out that due to the new situation, operating costs have been significantly reduced and austerity measures are being implemented in all business segments.

The planned projects of the Agency have not been stopped, only their dynamics has been slowed down. 


The Croatian Air Traffic Control did not reduce the rights of its workers, and on the topic of employment they say: 'In 2020 we planned to hire new employees as a result of several jobs opening afer retirements. However, due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the epidemic of the COVID-19 disease, the planned employment was postponed.'
Due to the crisis, The Croatian Air Traffic Control adopted a rebalance of their business plan,  significantly reducing investments. One of the most signifficant one was the project of upgrading the air traffic management system, which is now postponed.' they explained to us from CROCONTROL.


"Since the beginning of the epidemiological crisis, Croatia Airlines has shared the fate of the entire aviation industry in Europe and the world, as well as the entire transport and tourism sector in Croatia. The company strictly implements the Guidelines for streamlining the operations of majority state-owned companies of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which contains recommendations for adapting and operating in times of economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
Accordingly, workers' wages have been reduced by 15 percent. Also, given the reduced level of business activity, the existing workforce capacity is sufficient to perform current operations, with currently no need to hire seasonal workers.
Given the negative consequences of the epidemic crisis and uncertainty about the further development of the situation, which will directly affect the demand for air transport services, it is estimated that this year the company's will transport about 50 percent fewer passengers than last year. What the period after 2020 will bring, remains to be seen. Croatia Airlines will adjust all its business activities and operations to the current situation on a daily basis, striving to support Croatian economy and tourism at all times. "- we received a reply from Croatia Airlines.


Dubrovnik Airport did not reduce the general rights of workers while the salary in was reduced by 10% in gross amount, in agreement with the unions. 
Based on the experience from previous seasons, where there was a shortage of labor force, Dubrovnik Airport started hiring seasonal workers for 2020 at the end of last year and managed to secure the required number of workers before the coronavirus crisis. A contract was signed with these workers, however, a change was made in terms of income. All 250 seasonal workers were retained and their contracts are valid until August 31,
which is one of the social measures Dubrovnik Airport took towards its employees in these difficult times.
If necessary, these employees will be invited to sign an amendment to the contract when their salaries are returned to normal values ​​and they will start working.
There was no need for layoffs at Dubrovnik Airport due to good results up until the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.
Only one project is in progress -  automation of the parking space. However, that project has already been financed and is being implemented according to plan. The next project is a public garage planned for 2021.

 

Split Airport did not reduce the general rights of workers, but wages were reduced by an average of 15%. There were also no layoffs.
Although seasonal employment was planned as every year, it was stopped due to the crisis. 
They plan 15-20% of last year's turnover and the projects were not stopped due to the crisis. Thus, the following projects will be realized: reconstruction of vertical signalization, reconstruction of D-409 in front of the passenger terminal, airport fire truck, etc.

Brac Airport states that material rights have been reduced in accordance with the assessment that the crisis could last longer than a year. The corporation, which is majority owned by Brac Airport, has developed a scenario to cover salary costs in the worst case scenario and for a longer period of time.
Material rights have been reduced by 40% compared to the same from 2019. This reduction will continue until the end of the crisis, ie in accordance with the operating income in the upcoming period. Mr. Tonči Peović, director of Brač Airport told us, there were no dismissals because it is decided that all workers bear the burden of the crisis together through wage cuts, whichmmade it possible to keep all the jobs.
Considering that Brač Airport is not in majority state ownership, and the business results qualify them for the Government help, grants, part of the salaries were covered with fundings of the Government of the Republic of Croatia.
As for the planned projects, the runway extension project is financed through the use of EU cohesion funds and its own participation in the amount of about 17 million euros. Due to the new circumstances, it is not possible to plan the Airport's own participation, so the project is postponed until new conditions of the investment cycle are defined in terms of cohesion funds.

 

Zadar Airport reduced the rights in accordance with the agreement with the union. All rights arising from the Collective Agreement have been temporarily removed. 
Salaries have not been reduced so far, and there were no dismissals.
It is planned to hire seasonal workers, but it has been postponed until the beginning of July, since most airlines will start flying at that time.
The current situation in the air transport market, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a significant impact on the business results of all airports around the world, including Zadar Airport. Many investment activities have consequently been suspended or adjusted to the anticipated development of the situation. Likewise, Zadar Airport has adjusted the dynamics of the implementation of the capital project for the city of Zadar and the wider region - the expansion and upgrade of the passenger terminal building. 'We are considering the possibilities with the aim of starting the project documentation of the new passenger terminal as soon as possible, which we plan to launch at the beginning of next year, at the latest.' - they told us at Zadar Airport. 

 

Pula Airport did not reduce the rights and salaries of its employeese. In early July, employment of seasonal workers is planned, with whom contracts were signed. The dynamics will depend on the number of air operations and will certainly be significantly less than originally planned.

Employees who had a fixed-term employment contract were not re-employed upon its completion, while there were no dismissals.
Among the planned projects that have now been stopped, they state the improvement of the shuttle transport and promotion service in order to meet the needs of passengers.

 

In its response, Rijeka Airport states that the rights and salaries of workers have not been reduced, but as they further state, part of the workers were offered part-time work in March, which some accepted and worked until June, ie until the start of regular operations. Workers who did not accept that form of work were fired. 
There will be no seasonal employment.
Numerous projects and investments in further development and maintenance of Rijeka Airport are planned, but due to the coronavirus crisis, all spendings have been reduced to only necessary, with all investments postponed for better times to come. 


Zagreb Airport also did not lay off workers. They told us: “Despite the fact that in the period from March 2020 there was a significant decline in traffic, and thus a decline in revenue, there was no reduction in workers' rights in Zagreb International Airport, which are defined in the Collective Agreements. The addendum to the collective agreement signed for the period from April 1 to June 30, 2020 does not provide for reductions in workers' rights, but only a postponement of the payment of certain material rights until the last quarter of this year.
Zagreb International Airport Company reached an agreement with the representatives of Unions operating at the airport, and signed the Addenda to the Collective Agreement. A special way of working was established in the period from April to June 2020, with the application of number of so-called active and inactive hours during each month. By applying this new organization of work, in the mentioned period, the average salary was reduced by 15% per month.
It was planned to employ temporary workers during the summer flight schedule in 2020, which was not carried out due to the crisis.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, it was necessary to make certain changes in capital investment planning and optimize costs, which we did. However, we hope that this crisis will soon pass and that we will continue with the implementation of planned projects as soon as possible. "

Until the conclusion of this text, Osijek Airport did not respond to our inquiry.

The consequences for air transport are obvious, and we hope that in the coming period, by increasing of air traffic, all aviations organizations will be able to cover their costs. We will still wait for some better times for new projects and growth of the aviation industry in Croatia.