KLM pilots agree to pay cuts to secure bailout for airline

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Pilots with Dutch national airline KLM agreed Tuesday to accept pay cuts for as long as the carrier needs a multibillion euro government coronavirus bailout, the pilots union and KLM announced.

The decision clears the way for the government to agree to free up the next instalment of a 3.4 billion-euro ($3.96 billion) lifeline to help KLM survive the sharp downturn in air travel amid the pandemic. The package is made up of a 1 billion-euro loan and 2.4 billion euros in guarantees for bank loans.

On Saturday, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said he was halting the state aid because not all of KLM’s 30,000 staff had committed to accept pay cuts for the duration of the aid package, expected to be five years.

“It’s good that this hurdle has been cleared,” Hoekstra said after the pilots committed to the cuts.

KLM said in a statement Tuesday that the pilot’s labor union had joined seven other unions in signing a so-called “commitment clause” on pay cuts.

Hoekstra said that clearing the way for the government aid was “an important step,” but warned that the aviation sector still faces turbulent times amid the global pandemic.

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