RPT-Strike deal clears way for Norwegian Air's expansion plans
(Repeats item from March 11 with no changes to text)
* Strike may have cost $61 million - analysts
* Dispute highlights Norway's competitiveness challenge
* Airline set to expand fast for years to come
By Stine Jacobsen and Balazs Koranyi
OSLO, March 11 (Reuters) - Norwegian Air's battle with striking pilots cost it millions of dollars - but it may view that as a price worth paying as it preserved a successful expansion strategy that defies Scandinavian labour doctrine.
Europe's third-biggest budget airline has grown rapidly over the past decade, with its fleet increasing more than eight-fold. Faced with a Norwegian labour landscape of high wages, generous benefits and powerful unions, it has instead based some of its crew and jets in cheaper countries like Spain and Thailand.
The 11-day strike that ended this week shone a spotlight on a growing competitiveness problem in Norway, with pilots seeking a collective agreement with the carrier's parent entity, saying they wanted to prevent the company replacing them with lower-cost workers from overseas.
Norwegian Air saw off the crisis with more modest concessions - creating subsidiaries that would give Scandinavian pilots job security for nearly three years, but no collective agreement with the parent company. Continuación...