The Icelandic Airline Pilots' Association, FIA

The Icelandic Airline Pilots' Association was established in 1946, has currently some 650 members and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006. As the records of its founding history show, FIA has come a long way since then, becoming an active association, not only at national level, but also at European and global levels.

The Association's first issue was whether glider pilots and private pilots should be granted membership or only holders of Commercial Pilots' Licences. The argument in 1946 was that the increase in holders of Private Pilots' Licences would overtake the majority of votes in the union and therefore set aside the interests of the commercial pilots. The conclusion was that FIA should be a union for commercial pilots. The establishment of FIA was without any doubt due to the fact that commercial flight had been practiced for 27 years in Iceland at the time.

There were 30 founding members and the first Board of FIA was elected in December 1946, with - Captain Johannes R. Snorrason as its first President. At its first Board Meeting, FIA decided to write a letter of appeal to the Icelandic Parliament on the following issues:

  • Reykjavik Airport
  • to provide an NDB on the north coast of Iceland
  • to buy a link trainer and to provide an instructor with it
  • to establish a first aid plan

Also on record were the establishment of a co-operative housing program for pilots, the recruiting of new members and the union's logo. On the first union meeting at Hotel Winston in Reykjavik 1947, Captain Dagfinnur Stefansson underlined that the agreement on terms and conditions of The Canadian Pilots' Association was being translated into Icelandic and that the union could use that agreement as a reference for its future demands. (Based on The History of FIA for 60 years by Jon Th. Thor).

Since its founding days, aviation safety as well as terms and conditions have been at the core of FIA's activities. At this very moment, FIA is negotiating with airline managements terms and conditions for its members.

But apart from local issues, the union is facing global challenges today. We see Icelandic "airlines" without any AOCs outsourcing their flights, for example to Fly Hello in Switzerland, whose pilots are not unionised, undermining terms and conditions FIA pilots have been fighting for, for over 60 years. We see Transnational Airlines on Icelandic AOCs using pilots from many countries and many bases, not employing them if they are members of a union. Again, this undermines the terms and conditions our sister unions abroad have been fighting for, for decades and demonstrates certain "airlines" determination to use trans-national company structures to discourage trade union representation. FIA is therefore actively engaged in the European Cockpit Association (ECA) and the International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) to proactively deal with such challenges.

Capt. Thorsteinn Kristmannsson, ECA / IFALPA Director, FIA Iceland