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Cargolux will again face the wrath of its unions after transferring another aircraft to its subsidiary, Cargolux Italia. The LCGB union has entered the conciliation process, which could allow staff to take strike action after June 15.

The news comes as it was announced that the vice-president of the executive committee, Marcel Funk, is to resign at the end of April and leave the carrier at the end of the year, becoming the fifth board member to quit in the past 16 months.

Meanwhile, according to a document seen by The Loadstar, five of Cargolux’s aircraft are currently grounded – despite there being “enough work” according to a source.

The LCGB union, which had agreed that for every 10 aircraft in the Luxembourg fleet, one could go to Cargolux Italia, claims that only one of the three aircraft registered at CV Italia flies on routes to and from Italy.

“The working conditions of the pilots employed with Cargolux Italia are below the average standard in the industry,” the union said in a statement. “We are clearly facing social dumping, since the Cargolux management is thereby seeking to bypass the legislation and the social standards of Luxembourg.”

However, speaking with The Loadstar, Aloyse Kapweiler, LCGB trade union secretary, said that the union had agreed that a third aircraft could be moved to the Milan subsidiary on a temporary basis.

“It is too far advanced. We are strongly against more than two airplanes there, but [we are agreeing] only to facilitate the situation for the company, and accommodate the company for the time being.”

And the management seems to believe another aircraft could be moved. In a statement issued on 12 March, claiming that both sides were willing to compromise, Cargolux wrote: “The Cargolux management showed its willingness to cap the disputed growth of Cargolux Italia to four aircraft which was welcomed by the union representatives. Additionally, Cargolux will introduce a further aircraft to its Luxembourg-based fleet.”

It also noted: “While Cargolux dropped its call for time unit freezes, OGB-L agreed to lower entry salaries for new hires of both ground staff and pilots. Excellent progress was also made on other crew-related items which are close to a settlement.”

However, the LCGB union has called for the conciliation process to start again. It claims that CEO Dirk Reich backtracked on verbal promises to stop further outsourcing and renegotiate the collective work agreement. The union had proposed that no more than 8% of staff could be outside contractors – a figure which it said was negotiable.

“He refused to talk, even about the principle,” said Mr Kapweiler.

“If Cargolux opens a hangar in China, we want it to commit that every Europe-registered plane must be maintained in Luxembourg. But Mr Reich did not agree. If the company can commit to grow in Luxembourg then it is no problem if it grows elsewhere.

“The last meeting saw some sort of opening – but we’ll believe it when we see it. The company is unstable, and we have no trust in the management.”

In a statement, the union said that the management had a “startling and incomprehensible” attitude , especially given the concessions that had been offered to it.  It added: “The LCGB fears that some time only a letterbox will be left at Findel Airport.”

Cargolux noted in its statement that its crew duty days were lower than the industry average, at 186 a year. Cargolux Italia crew must work 236 days a year.

“Pilot representatives unfortunately indicated no willingness to move forward on this demand and still show a strong resistance without a reasonable counteroffer.”

Meanwhile a letter seen by The Loadstar,  sent to colleagues by Mr Funk, who is responsible for air operations at the carrier, said he had signed a “mutual termination contract”. Mr Reich will take over his position as Accountable Manager from May 1, while the Board of Directors will choose a successor by June.

Mr Funk, who has been with the company for 40 years, was on board the new aircraft delivery flight which indulged in a risky wing wave on take-off last year. Sources at the airline told that Mr Funk was leaving over differences of opinion.

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