Icelandair fires all flight attendants, asks pilots to take over cabin crew duties


Icelandair has announced that it would be laying off all its flight attendants, ending a labour dispute with the crew members’ union that began last month. In an unprecedented move, the airline said it planned to have its pilots temporarily assume flight attendants’ roles overseeing the safety of those onboard, starting today.

“Icelandair will permanently terminate the employment of its employment of its current cabin crew members and permanently discontinue the employment relationship between the parties,” Icelandair said in a statement.

With this decision, Icelandair ended its ongoing contract negotiations with the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFÍ) and will seek a contract with “another party within the Icelandic labour market”.

Negotiations between FFÍ and Icelandair have been ongoing for months and become increasingly tense. FFÍ members rejected the first contract offer they received from the airline in early May, which entailed a five-year salary freeze, as well as the second contract offer earlier this month. Icelandair raised the possibility of hiring flight attendants from outside the union after the first contract was rejected, but later retracted the idea and returned to the negotiating table.

Having fired all of its cabin crew, Icelandair is asking its pilots—who signed their own contract agreement with the company in mid-May—to step in and take over cabin crew duties as it seeks replacement staff to work onboard its aircraft.

According to the statement released by the airline, onboard service will continue to enforce COVID-19 safety protocols, and will, therefore, be limited. For instance, no carry-on baggage is currently allowed on Icelandair flights in order to limit the amount of time that passengers spend in aisles and boarding and there is no beverage or meal service.

Starting today, six to eight pilots will staff each Icelandair flight. The airline has confirmed that all of its pilots have the required safety training, but will be attending a short refresher course in the coming days.