“Employees organize their work assignments themselves”
More and more employees expect flexible working time models. This is difficult to offer, especially in aviation. At the airline Helvetic Airways, however, cabin employees can now choose how they work. CEO Tobias Pogorevc explains how it works.
Helvetic Airways cabin crew can submit individual requests for the design of the work plan as part of a test.
Jean Claude RaemyEditor Economics
In aviation, there is a hard fight for workers. At Swiss alone, more than 1,500 new employees are being sought this year. But smaller Swiss airlines are also looking for staff. In their case, there is also the risk of losing existing employees to the larger competitor with the more popular name.
But the little ones have a weighty argument to throw into the balance: flexibility. Since they are smaller and less complex, they can offer employees comparatively flexible working models. In 2022, the Swiss workforce had criticized the rigid work schedules, among other things. The small Chair Airlines then launched a year-round block deployment plan.
Terms of employment can be adjusted
The Swiss regional airline Helvetic Airways has had part-time work models such as “Fly & Study” for students or “Sky & Fly” for seasonal employees such as ski instructors for several years. There are also freelancer contracts for employees who can work on demand. The airline is now going one step further and launching “Fly your way”.
Cabin employees can now submit individual work requests. For example, certain days can be kept free, or, for example, 3 weeks of continuous work followed by 2 weeks off can be requested. The individually designed terms of employment can be adjusted twice a year. As a rule, the planning applies to one flight season, i.e. for the summer flight schedule from April to October, or for the winter flight schedule from November to March. Incidentally, there are also blackout dates at the absolute peak times.
Individual planning is a must
Tobias Pogorevc (52), CEO of Helvetic Airways, explains to Blick: “We can already fulfill 90 percent of the wishes for holidays and days off.” This is possible thanks to high reserve planning and a special incentive system: anyone who decides to work at short notice despite having a day off receives an additional CHF 100.
Pogorevc does not deny the higher expenses for the flexible working time model. But he sees this as a necessity: “Today, individual planning is very important for colleagues of all ages.” Helvetic Airways wants to meet this need. Although one cannot offer days off in distant destinations, flexible rolling planning is possible due to the manageable size of the company. “Nobody currently offers such a model, at least in Zurich,” says Pogorevc.
Helvetic Airways already has a lot of experience with the part-time model. “In the cabin, 38 percent of our workforce are part-time employees, in the cockpit it’s 25 percent,” says Pogorevc. As a result, the proportion of female employees, especially in the cockpit, is above average. Overall, Helvetic Airways employs over 440 people.
The requirements for training, safety and quality are not affected by the part-time model. Newly hired cabin crew with flying experience can benefit from the “fly your way” model after just two to three months, while cabin crew without flying experience can apply for part-time work after six months.
A place to stay for the employees
“Fly your way” is currently a test. A Helvetic flat share is also being tested. Helvetic Airways rents apartments near the airport and rents them out to new employees who do not live in the Zurich area. “These can be mechanics, which we often have to recruit from abroad, or potential employees in more distant regions such as Valais,” says Pogorevc.
This allows employees to focus on their work and does not have to worry about the time-consuming search for an apartment or room.