The use of rented aircraft including crews, so-called wet lease, is a thorn in the side of the German pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit. It is feared that collective agreements could be circumvented as a result.
From the point of view of the employee representatives, the use of ACMI aircraft has changed significantly in recent years. In the past, German airlines only used third-party services to cushion seasonal peaks or when their own aircraft failed. In the meantime, however, a significant part of the planning would be based on wet lease devices.
For example, Eurowings is currently using up to eleven Airbus A320s from Avion Express Malta. Air Baltic also flies five A220-300s for the Lufthansa offshoot. You are also active with two machines of this type for Eurowings Discover. The holiday airline also uses three Airbus A350s from Finnair on long-haul routes.
For example, Condor has European Air Charter, Heston and Bulgaria Air fly for it. The Tui travel group is chartering with Smartlynx to a larger extent this year, making sure that the Smartlynx code is used. Occasionally the carrier also helps out with the airline Tuifly.
In the 2022/23 winter flight schedule, Eurowings Discover and Eurowings are reducing the use of ACMI aircraft. At the first carrier, the Airbus A220-300 from Air Baltic no longer used. Eurowings is reducing the number of leased aircraft two A220-300 each from Air Baltic and two Boeing 737 from Tuifly.
Incidentally, Nordica also sees growth opportunities in the wet lease area. A fleet of up to 15 Airbus A320s is being built. If possible, they want to be accommodated by other airlines in the long term. In general, some new providers have been founded in the Baltic States that have specialized explicitly in the provision of ACMI and charter services.
VC criticizes precarious employment models
The Cockpit Association is critical of the development of providers from Eastern Europe and their Malta branches increasingly providing flight services in Germany. It is feared that the carriers will try to cut costs permanently. There is also the accusation that existing collective agreements could be circumvented and that there could even be wage and social dumping. Needless to say: ACMI providers from Eastern Europe usually pay what is customary at the official home base and not the level that would be incurred in Germany. This allows you to offer cheap prices.
Stefan Herth, President of the Cockpit Association, explains: “The current increasing incidence of wet leasing is nothing other than the next form of social dumping. Some established airlines use subcontractors, evade their responsibility for comprehensive personnel management and thus even support competition at the expense of our economy - instead of agreeing with the unions on sustainable individual solutions for covering seasonal fluctuations".
The VC also takes the view that some ACMI providers should also use precarious employment models. Allegedly, pilots should not be employed, but employed on a fee basis. From the point of view of the trade union, this means that there is an accusation of bogus self-employment.
“The fact that some of the wet lease providers are pushing pilots into bogus self-employment or practicing dubious temporary employment through “agencies” is accepted even by established companies. That has to end. From now on, we will do everything we can to dry up these dubious forms of wet leasing!” says Herth.
In the past year, the Cockpit Association collected and evaluated extensive data on employment models and flight movements and is now able to pass this on to the responsible authorities.
"As in the fight against the direct bogus self-employment in air traffic, which is practiced in Ireland in particular, the authorities are now asked to carry out broad controls to control bogus self-employment and illegal hiring out of workers at subcontractors and wet leasing providers and to put an end to these questionable machinations," says Stefan Herth concludes.