Spain's pilots union, Sepla, says that reintroduction into the labour market in the aviation sector is not at the same rate as the recovery of business activity. What it means by this is that there is still a very high number of pilots who are covered by the ERTE furlough scheme - up to 85% the union calculates.
Certain airlines, the union maintains, continue to resort to ERTE to suspend pilots' contracts on days when they do not have flights and to then deactivate ERTE on days when there are flights. This use of ERTE is a "de facto reduction of working hours". However, Sepla stresses that pilots still on ERTE have returned to fly during the summer "at levels very similar to those before the pandemic" in terms of flight hours.
The union concludes, therefore, that the majority of pilots have seen their flight activity increased in a much greater proportion than their working hours - they have worked at a rate similar to that in summer 2019 but with fewer paid days.
Flight hours are said to be being compressed on the days of ERTE deactivation, leaving other days of the month covered by ERTE. "This allows airlines to save the fixed costs corresponding to those days." These are passed on to social security.
Sepla says that the airlines which are continuing to keep all their pilots on ERTE due to force majeure are Iberia, Iberia Express, Air Europa, Air Europa Express, Vueling, Air Nostrum, Wamos, Plus Ultra and Jet2. Norwegian is negotiating an ERTE with Sepla for the 86 pilots who remain with the airline following the collective dismissal over recent months.
The only airlines to have ceased with ERTE due to an increase in activity are Ryanair, easyJet and Eurowings.