Skip to main content

Strike looms at Turkey's top airline

By Ivan Watson and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
updated 1:14 PM EDT, Tue May 14, 2013
Turkish Airlines aircraft parked at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, March 16, 2013.
Turkish Airlines aircraft parked at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, March 16, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Negotiations with the country's main aviation workers union have collapsed
  • Strike against Turkish Airlines could go into effect at 3 a.m. local time Wednesday
  • Airline says its management failed to reach an agreement on a labor dispute
  • Union leadership says it is has been negotiating salaries and rest periods for long flights

(CNN) -- Turkey's flagship airline is facing the threat of a strike after negotiations with the country's main aviation workers union collapsed.

The head of the Turkish Civilian Aviation Union, or Hava-Is, said the strike against Turkish Airlines would go into effect at 3 a.m. local time Wednesday.

"All of Turkish Airlines' functions will stop, no passenger flights, no cargo services, no connecting flights," Hava-Is president Atilay Aycin said in a phone interview with CNN.

"All sectors starting with the tourism industry who are doing business with Turkish Airlines will be affected," Aycin added.

Hava-Is says it represents 14,000 Turkish airlines workers.

Turkish Airlines published a statement Tuesday, acknowledging that its management failed to reach an agreement on a labor dispute "due to uncompromising and imposing approaches of the Union."

The airline urged its employees to "disregard" the proposed strike. It also accused Hava-Is of "trying to plunge Turkish Airlines and its employees into an indefinite strike adventure which will benefit nobody."

Hava-Is' leadership says it is has been negotiating salaries and rest periods for long flights, which the union's president says do not meet international standards.

Though recently privatized, Turkish Airlines is 49% government-owned. Its fleet of airplanes and schedule of routes have expanded dramatically in the last decade, as Turkey has enjoyed a period of solid economic growth.

The Turkish government has developed a pattern of using the airline as an extension of Turkey's "soft power." The airline has extended routes to new countries, in conjunction with bilateral diplomatic overtures from Ankara.

But the airline has also been caught up in the culture wars that frequently pit Turkey's ruling pious Muslim elite against more secular segments of Turkish society.

This month, Turkish Airlines attracted international attention when the company announced it was banning certain shades of lipstick and nail polish among flight attendants.

Turkish flight attendants see red over lipstick policy

Outrage spilled into social media and newspaper columns, as secular critics accused the airline's management of imposing conservative religious values on the company.

A similar uproar emerged after the company announced it would stop serving alcohol on a number of domestic and international routes.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT