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November 16, 2009

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Finnair pilots to strike as labor deal off

SOME 800 Finnair pilots will begin a strike today, grounding all scheduled international and domestic flights of the Finnish national carrier, the airline said.

The announcement came after pilots rejected a labor contract proposal by the state mediator following months of unsuccessful talks between the airline and pilots on working conditions and pay.

The strike is expected to affect about 20,000 people on its first day and will ground all regular flights.

Finnair, which operates some 200 flights daily, said it was "likely to cancel nearly all long-haul flights" departing Helsinki yesterday and European flights departing yesterday and returning today.

"Finnair aims to operate all of its leisure flights regardless of the strike," the airline said, adding that its code-share partners will fly to and from Helsinki as normal despite the strike.

The Finnish Airline Pilots' Association said union leaders had unanimously rejected the proposal.

"This mediation proposal did not bring any answers to the main point of disagreement about the use of non-company employees," association Chairman Kristian Rintala said. "We maintain that Finnair planes should have Finnair pilots."

Finnair spokesman Taneli Hassinen denied the airline wanted to use non-Finnair pilots.

"In certain market conditions we need to be able to use non-company employees ... but in no way are we planning to allow outside employees into Finnair cockpits," Hassinen said.

National Conciliator Esa Lonka said no timetable to reopen talks had been agreed.


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