On July 5, the Aeroflot flag carrying airline informed about the transfer of production facilities and human resources, which are part of the maintenance department, to the A-Technics specialized company. In connection with this reform employees of Aeroflot are afraid of reductions and have addressed a letter to the Russian President.
As reported by RBC, in connection with the ongoing reform of the maintenance unit, the employees of Aeroflot are afraid of cuts and have addressed a letter to Vladimir Putin. 2,000 specialists work in the maintenance department. In turn, Aeroflot said there is no risk of layoffs and the company is establishing the largest provider of technical services. The letter to the Presidential Administration was sent on July 1. RBC was informed that they have a copy of the letter, but the number of the employees who signed it was not specified. Meanwhile, at the end of last year, Aeroflot had 20,300 people and the number of employees in the entire group reached 36,100.
According to the media, the reform of the maintenance unit was approved by the board of directors on February 24. The main purpose is to transform the issues of aircraft maintenance, remove all functions that duplicate each other, and transfer them fully to A-Technics, which belongs to the carrier.
On July 5, Aeroflot announced the creation of the largest provider in Russia on the basis of A-Technics. It will provide services of aircraft maintenance. For this purpose, the production facilities and employees who were in the maintenance department will be transferred to A-Technics, said the airline’s representatives. It is planned that this reform will be completed by the end of this year. First, according to Vedomosti, the three hangar complexes currently located at Sheremetyevo Airport will be transferred, and later the storage facilities as well as the maintenance stations will be transferred to this company.
According to Mikhail Korobovich, CEO of A-Technics, business models of holdings are now widespread in world practice. In this case, large airlines transfer technical subdivisions into separate structures that specialize not only in the maintenance of the parent companies' aircrafts, but also in the repair of other air carriers' aircrafts. That is how the holding company gets additional funds, said Korobovich. This model is now being developed in the world and in our country as well.
The head of the Transport and Logistics practice of the Strategy Partners consulting company Roman Tinyaev agrees with this statement. According to Vitaly Guzhva, Professor of aviation finance at Embry-Riddle Aeronautial University, he does not link the reconstruction of airlines to an increase in flight safety risks. As Korobovich said, it is this form of maintenance and repair of the fleet that will enable Aeroflot to reduce costs for this type of service.
The letter from Aeroflot employees, on the contrary, states that this transformation will contribute to the loss of workers who are engaged in the maintenance and repair of airliners. That is what Nikolai Izosimov, the chairman of the trade union committee of the Primary organization of employees of Aeroflot, said in a letter to the head of Aeroflot Sergey Aleksandrovsky on June 21. According to him, more than 150 employees who are just engaged in technical maintenance of aircraft have applied to the trade union committee on this issue. In addition, the employees of Aeroflot, referring to the files published by the board of directors on February 24, told RBC that it is expected to reduce the funding for aircraft maintenance by about 15%.
Nearly 1,000 employees are engaged in aircraft maintenance both in hangars and at the airfield. According to Grigory Rebeko, labor inspector of the Trade Union of Employees of Civil Aviation Engineering Services of Russia, more than 50% of the employees want to continue working for the company. Meanwhile, it is the employees of the supporting services who worry that there may be staff reductions in the future, especially those employees who do not want to transfer to A-Technics.
Commenting on the appeal of Aeroflot employees, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told RBC that this was a corporate issue and that ensuring flight safety was an absolute priority. In his turn, the representative of the Federal Air Transport Agency, as confirmed by RBC, agreed that under the current legislation the airline itself determines the scheme of its organizational structure.
However, the majority of specialists in the maintenance department do not support this decision and do not want to transfer to A-Technics. When joining A-Technics, the department's employees emphasize that it will be mandatory to have an interview. Julia Chichko, the head of the personnel department of A-Technics, stated that the employees should make a decision before July 12 and if there is a lack of specialists by that time the company will hire people “from the market.” At the same time, she underlined that the market of specialists engaged in aircraft maintenance is large.
According to the employees, working conditions at A-Technics are worse than at Aeroflot. There are no corporate tickets and quarterly bonuses, and vacations are shorter. In addition, as stated in a letter from Aeroflot employees, this company has penalties. During a meeting with the team, Chichko admitted that the motivation package at A-Technics is worse. At the same time, she insisted that the company offers employees quite a competitive package. It is currently rated by auditing companies as one of the best, she said. According to Chichko, during the audit examinations the auditors noted that the level of competence of the specialists was high and the facilities and the workplace culture were up to the mark. According to Chichko, all this allows to carry out maintenance and repair of equipment at the proper level and ensure flight safety.
The source of RBC, close to the management of Aeroflot, confirmed that concerns of specialists are quite understandable. From the very beginning, this reform was designed to optimize the personnel. When the number of international flights has decreased, it is quite possible that this reform will lead to the reduction of technical staff.
As reported by RBC, Aeroflot also understands that such a reform causes concern among employees. According to the Aeroflot representative, the technical staff will be distributed between A-Technics and other departments of the company that deal with related tasks. He also added that Aeroflot appreciates highly skilled workers and he is optimistic about the further development of services for maintenance and repair of the fleet.
At present, according to RBC, the airline is focused on developing Russian domestic lines, so it will need to deal with aircraft maintenance and repairs. It is A-Technics that will be able not only to maintain the existing volume of work, but also to significantly increase it, he said.