As Germany’s Independent Flight Attendants Union (UFO) prepares to ballot Eurowings cabin crew on strike action, Carsten Spohr the chief executive of the Lufthansa Group has said that they actually enjoy “above average bargaining and social standards”.
Speaking with Der Spiegel magazine, Spohr claimed Eurowings staffers earned better wages and enjoyed better conditions than crew at low-cost competitors – like Ryanair, for example.
Cabin crew at the Lufthansa Group’s budget subsidiary are currently being balloted on strike action in a dispute over accusations of low pay and poor working conditions. Members of the union are said to be largely in favour of launching industrial action which could see walkouts begin in time for the summer holidays.
A similar ballot is being held at the mainline Lufthansa brand.
In the last couple of weeks, Lufthansa said it would increase cost-cutting measures and push for greater productivity at Eurowings after the airline group issued another profits warning for the low-cost airline. Spohr attributes the losses to two main causes:
- Rapid expansion after Lufthansa snaffled up a large chunk of the ex-Air Berlin fleet.
- Competing with low-cost rivals who are selling tickets for as little as €9.99
As a result, Spohr says Eurowings is now trying to reduce “complexity and costs” and will also set growth to zero. “Incidentally, this is a thoroughly rational step in an industry with high overcapacity,” Spohr told Der Spiegel.
Telling the magazine that Eurowings’ minimum ticket price is €25, Spohr hit out at rivals like Ryanair who sell tickets from less than ten Euros but defended its own pricing strategy, saying that Eurowings would be used to defend Lufthansa’s home market.
“There is this fast-growing, extremely price-sensitive segment. And it has enormously democratized flying in recent years. But ticket prices below ten euros are neither economically sensible nor ecologically and politically responsible,” he explained.
The strike ballot was triggered when Lufthansa called off talks with the UFO last week. It looks as if Lufthansa thinks its pay, conditions and strategy for Eurowings is fair and reasonable. We should soon find out if cabin crew think differently.