Up to 26,000 employees could be axed at the Lufthansa Group, a spokesperson for the airline admitted after meeting with unions on Wednesday over proposed job cuts and sweeping changes to terms and conditions. Like many airlines, Lufthansa has been hit hard by the Corona crisis and believes it will need to significantly downsize its operation for at least several years to match a dramatically reduced demand for air travel.
The new estimate is much higher than the 10,000 job losses that Lufthansa warned could be possible only a few weeks ago. After securing a €9 billion taxpayer-funded bailout from the German government, Lufthansa said an extensive restructuring would be required across the airline group, from which more losses have been identified.
Unions had lobbied the German government to attach employee retention conditions to the bailout agreement but in the end, these never materialised.
The majority of Lufthansa’s employees are currently on short-time working arrangements where a significant proportion of their wages are paid by the government. Although Lufthansa plans to significantly expand passenger operations in the coming weeks and months, capacity will remain well below pre-Corona levels for some time.
A Lufthansa spokesperson told Reuters that despite the resumption of passenger services to 70 per cent of long-haul destinations and 90 per cent of short-haul destinations, the airline will have a surplus of 22,000 full-time equivalent positions or 26,000 employees.
The airline and unions are exploring ways to avoid that full number of redundancies by expanding short-time working arrangements and part-time work, offering sabbaticals and unpaid leave. Voluntary redundancy packages are also being discussed.
The German Cockpit Association which represents pilots has even offered to accept a pay cut of around 45 per cent for the next two years in a bid to save jobs – a proposal that Lufthansa has not yet agreed to despite continuing negotiations.
“We hope that together with the Lufthansa management we can bring the company back to its old strength. It is important that jobs are preserved and that protection against dismissal is agreed,” a spokesperson for Vereinigung Cockpit said of the negotiations.
The UFO cabin crew union said little progress had yet been made and that “compromises seem impossible”. The union said it would strive to save as many jobs as possible before an extraordinary general meeting slated for June 25 when the cost-cutting measures are set to be presented to the Lufthansa Board and shareholders.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.