Former Estonian Air staff and pilots are faced with a choice of either moving abroad to find work or taking a job at Nordic Aviation Group (NAG) for a third smaller salary, says Helen Reinhold, head of the Estonian Air Line Pilots Association.
She said the sad fact is that it is not NAG which is hiring former Estonian Air staff, but private company Nordic Crew Management.
“This means that work conditions have been lowered significantly, which means the salary is a third smaller. There is also confusion from the work contract scheme and the situation surrounding NAG,” Reinhold said.
She said the board members are new at NAG, but middle management is the same as at Estonian Air.
“When we trained to become a pilot we did not think we would have to leave Estonia, but the situation currently is that it is difficult to find a job as a pilot and if someone has family reasons for stopping them leaving Estonia, then they will have to think of a new vocation,” Reinhold, herself a former Estonian Air pilot, said.
She said NAG has so far hired eight pilots while 10 have left to work abroad. She said currently there is work to be found abroad with AirBaltic and Sun Express, of Turkey, hiring.
“The situation on the job market has remained unchanged and since foreign companies offer better salaries NAG is abusing the situation – if you want to work in Estonia you must accept the worse contract conditions. But I think it is similar to other fields in Estonia,” Reinhold said.
Nordic Crew Management head Tõnis Lepp told ERR that the salary of a pilot does not depend on who hires that pilot, whether it is an airline or a human resources company which offers its services to an airline.
He said 17 former Estonian Air pilots have so far found jobs through Nordic Crew Management.
State-owned Estonian Air was officially declared bankrupt a few days ago, but the airline grounded all flights already in November when the European Commission ruled against it in a case of illegal state aid. The state set up NAG at the end of the summer to take over from Estonian Air, and begin to offer air connections from Tallinn after Estonian Air is disbanded.
NAG has so far contracted other airlines to service former Estonian Air routes, but will begin with its own aircraft and pilots in mid-January. Cooperation with Adira Airways of Slovenia will also continue.
NAG will rent aircraft from US company Regional One and is hoping to get hold of three Estonian Air jets.
Editor: J.M. Laats