Lufthansa canceled at least 876 flights this Wednesday because of a strike by its pilots. Almost 100,000 people had to adjust their travel plans unexpectedly. The strike is going to continue through Thursday, as Lufthansa pilots and the company try to reach an agreement.
The walkout is affecting short-haul as well as long-haul services that Lufthansa is operating under its main brand. In total, about 40 percent of the airline’s usual schedule is hit by the pilots’ strike. Also disrupted are premium flights such as Beijing-Frankfurt and Los Angeles-Munich. The company is doing its best to handle the situation, even as nearly half of its operations are grounded.
Lufthansa Flights Affected by Union Action
The Lufthansa pilots’ strike was scheduled to last for just one day originally. But a legal move by the company prompted the pilots union to extend the strike by another day. Lufthansa tried to block the strike in the German courts but did not win the case. So, in retribution, the Vereinigung Cockpit union decided to keep the strike going for another day. Now, the airline says that it is ready to resume negotiations with the pilots at any point.
The action of the Vereinigung Cockpit, the union of the pilots working for Lufthansa, is the most recent effort of the employees to draw the company’s attention to several issues. Over the past two years, pilots working for Lufthansa have collectively clashed with the company in several actions. The issues raised by Lufthansa pilots have to do with pay as well as working conditions. The pilots union is asking for a 20 percent raise for the period from 2012 through to 2017. That would mean a raise of 3.7 percent per year. So far, the company has offered a raise of 2.5 percent through to 2018. That would mean a raise of 0.38 percent annually.
Another issue that the pilots union is bringing up is Lufthansa’s Eurowings unit. The company has plans to transform the unit into a discount carrier. The unit would operate cheap flights, in response to growing demand for more affordable airplane travel. The plan has been met with disapproval by employees.
Lufthansa Tries to Cope with Strike
Lufthansa had already seen flight schedules at its Eurowings bases in Dusseldorf and Hamburg. This Tuesday, the Ver.di labor group organized a walkout by Lufthansa flight attendants. Taken by surprise, the company had to cancel 64 services that day.
Lufthansa said that they were still working on a flight plan for this Thursday. The company said that they didn’t have a number for potential cancellations. For the duration of the strike, customers who have already purchased tickets will be able to make adjustments to their booking free of charge.
The last time that the airline’s pilots staged a walkout was in September of 2015. The action was halted by a court ruling that said it was an illegal effort to try and influence corporate strategy. Since then, the talks between the pilots union and the company have gravitated solely around the issue of pay increases and working conditions.
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