Singapore Airlines, the world's second-biggest airline by market value, said on Monday it was seeking court arbitration to settle a dispute with its pilots over pay and benefits for flying its new A380 superjumbo planes.
Singapore Airlines has ordered 19 of Airbus' double-decker A380 aircraft and will be the first airline to fly the new plane next year.
The company is seeking to have some differences with Air Line Pilots Association-Singapore (Alpa-S) over proposed pay scales for A380 pilots adjudicated. We hope that the outstanding issues can be resolved quickly, Singapore Airlines said in a statement.
Singapore daily The Straits Times said on Monday that Alpa-S, which it said represents 1,600 pilots, is upset because the airline is proposing to pay the pilots less than what a Boeing 747 captain makes, although the airline's A380s, with just under 480 seats, will carry about 100 more passengers than its 747s.
The paper added that a Singapore Airlines' 747 captain starts at about S$10,000 (US$6,300) per month excluding allowances and that according to pilots interviewed, the rule of thumb is the bigger the plane, the higher the pay.
Singapore Airlines has referred its dispute with its pilots' union to the Industrial Arbitration Court, a spokesman said.
Declining to give further details, Singapore Airlines said its talks with the union had been constructive but that there remained areas where they did not have common ground.
Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who holds the title of Minister Mentor in his son Lee Hsien Loong's cabinet, stepped in to end a spat between the state-controlled firm and its pilots' union in 2003, after the flag carrier cut wages, slashed capacity by a third, and furloughed nearly 600 staff.
Both sides reached a deal last year on salary and benefits, ending the city-state's worst labor dispute in two decades.
Lee, the father of the prime minister, said Singapore was determined to prevent a repeat of a 1980 dispute with pilots that disrupted flights on key routes, especially as regional competition grows in the airline industry.
SIA shares were unchanged at S$14.60 by midday, in line with a flat broader market.