Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines has extended its flight suspension dates, but still plans to maintain its current staffing levels for the next two years, even though travel restrictions and the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced demand for air travel.
Turkish Airlines A330-300 registered TC-LND. Photo by Adam Lanzen | AeroNewsX
The news that the airline does not envisage job cuts over a two year period came as a surprise to many in the aviation industry, as a number of airlines across the world have been forced to let staff go in order to save on costs. In an interview, Turkish Airlines Chairperson Ilker Ayci said: “We see 2020 and 2021 not as years of profitability, but as years to protect employment." He continued by saying that “our job is to resist layoffs, as much as we can afford.”
The news of potentially no layoffs may be welcome news for many employees at the airline. However, last week the International Air Travel Association (IATA) warned that passenger demand may not recover till 2024. According to the association’s baseline scenario, traffic will recover to 2019 levels in 2023. This means that airline revenues will be down for two to three years. Although there may not be job cuts this year, Ilker Ayci was quick to point out that no airline can completely protect its workforce when there is a drop in sales, pointing out that “all of us will need to make sacrifices.” He didn’t allude to whether these sacrifices referred to job losses, but one might suspect that if the airline wishes to “resist layoffs” these sacrifices could come in the form of less working hours or a reduction in pay for employees.
This news comes just two days after the carrier extended its aforementioned flight suspension. The carrier initially outlined that the suspension of flights would last until May 28th. However, the Turkish carrier issued a statement saying that domestic flights would now be suspended until June 4th, with international flights suspended until June 10th.
In addition to this extension, Turkish Airlines has outlined that once flights resume, carry-on baggage will not be allowed in the cabin and will have to be checked in with other baggage. The airline did confirm that handbags will be allowed in the cabin and will not have to be checked-in with other carry-on luggage. The new baggage policy could be seen as a way for many airlines to reduce the number of bags onboard inside the cabin, in addition to restricting the use of overhead bins. By introducing such a hygienic policy this would ultimately reduce the number of surfaces that would have to be disinfected between flights.