Employment and working conditions in EU civil aviation

15-04-2016

Aviation is a strategically important sector of the EU economy, contributing €110 billion directly and €300 billion indirectly to EU GDP, and employing around 1.9 million persons directly. If impacts on other industries such as tourism are taken into account, then it can be said that aviation supports up to 9 million jobs. These jobs are not evenly spread across the EU: three quarters of air transport employment is centred in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Since the EU liberalised the aviation market in the early 1990s, the industry has gone through notable changes which have also had an impact on employment and working conditions. For instance, outsourcing has increased; some workers have had to operate from airline bases where they do not live; income has become more variable; many have been laid off and those remaining in work have had to increase their productivity. Furthermore, next to full-time permanent contracts, atypical forms of employment such as agency work, self-employment, zero-hour contracts and pay-to-fly schemes have increasingly been used, especially for younger staff and new entrants to the workforce. Persons employed under such schemes often have more precarious working conditions and are generally less likely to be unionised. EU institutions have repeatedly examined working conditions in civil aviation. Some Members of the European Parliament, as well as of the European Economic and Social Committee, have expressed concerns about the use of atypical forms of employment and multiplication of airlines' home bases. Although the aviation strategy that the European Commission published at the end of 2015 deals with working conditions, it did not present any new legislative initiative on this issue.

Aviation is a strategically important sector of the EU economy, contributing €110 billion directly and €300 billion indirectly to EU GDP, and employing around 1.9 million persons directly. If impacts on other industries such as tourism are taken into account, then it can be said that aviation supports up to 9 million jobs. These jobs are not evenly spread across the EU: three quarters of air transport employment is centred in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Since the EU liberalised the aviation market in the early 1990s, the industry has gone through notable changes which have also had an impact on employment and working conditions. For instance, outsourcing has increased; some workers have had to operate from airline bases where they do not live; income has become more variable; many have been laid off and those remaining in work have had to increase their productivity. Furthermore, next to full-time permanent contracts, atypical forms of employment such as agency work, self-employment, zero-hour contracts and pay-to-fly schemes have increasingly been used, especially for younger staff and new entrants to the workforce. Persons employed under such schemes often have more precarious working conditions and are generally less likely to be unionised. EU institutions have repeatedly examined working conditions in civil aviation. Some Members of the European Parliament, as well as of the European Economic and Social Committee, have expressed concerns about the use of atypical forms of employment and multiplication of airlines' home bases. Although the aviation strategy that the European Commission published at the end of 2015 deals with working conditions, it did not present any new legislative initiative on this issue.