February 23rd, 2010
12:47 AM GMT
London (CNN) - As I stood outside the fence of Heathrow in the rain, it all looked like business as usual on the runways. I even saw two Lufthansa branded planes land. They told the whole story of the pilot's strike. The strike – which was called off after one day when German courts intervened – involves one of the world's biggest airline, but not all of it.
The two planes that landed at Heathrow were: Lufthansa Italia and Lufthansa Regional. These two arms of the carrier, along with its subsidiaries BMI, Swiss and Austrian all have different, and more importantly, cheaper deals with pilots. Lufthansa's pilots are mad that the German carrier is moving routes to these and other parts of the company to cut costs.
Meanwhile, British Airways planes keep taking off and landing, full of cabin crew who have spent the last month voting on a strike ballot. Of the 80 percent who voted, nearly 81 percent voted to strike.
Though BA's press release noted the carrier's disappointment, it must be said the Union got a more than 90 percent vote last December. Also the union had yet to announce a date or length for this strike. The last one, to be 12 days over Christmas and New Years was blocked by a British Judge.
BA says recent talks have yielded progress. The union agreed but went ahead with the ballot anyway.
BA has said all along it must make the changes to cabin crew pay and conditions to cut costs, with or without the union's help. This vote is not likely to change the mind of CEO Willie Walsh who has told me many times cuts must come to save this airline in the face of tough economic conditions and increased competition from low-cost carriers.
Meanwhile, French air traffic controllers are expected to walk off the job Tuesday. Why? Just like Lufthansa pilots and BA cabin crews, the issues largely boil down to one: Job security.
Judging from the fears of labor unions, job security is one thing that appears to be taking flight in the airline industry.
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