Lufthansa has been forced to cancel 800 flights on Friday after pilots started a one-day strike in a dispute over pay and conditions. The German flag carrier has grounded nearly its entire flight schedule out of its Frankfurt and Munich hubs, leaving around 130,000 passengers stranded.
The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union gave little more than 24 hours’ notice for Friday’s walkout when it told the media on Wednesday night that last-ditch talks had broken down after Lufthansa failed to table a “sufficient” offer.
Lufthansa says it has offered pilots a 900 Euro per month pay hike which would be paid in two stages over 18 months. The offer was set to benefit junior pilots the most and a new hire First Officer was set to receive a nearly 20 per cent wage increase.
For longer-serving pilots, however, the offer was worth less as a percentage of their overall pay and Senior Captain rank pilots would only have benefited from a 5 per cent pay rise. Inflation in Germany is currently running well above 5 per cent.
“We lack any understanding of the VC’s call for strikes,” slammed Lufthansa’s head of human resources Michael Niggemann ahead of the walkout.
“The employer side has made a very good and socially balanced offer – despite the retroactive burden of the corona crisis and uncertain prospects for the global economy.”
Lufthansa claims VC is demanding above-inflation pay hikes along with a slew of other major contract changes. The airline estimates that if accepted, the VC’s demands would cost an additional 900 million Euros over the next two years.
Niggemann has warned that flight disruption could be felt throughout the weekend because pilots and aircraft will be out of position. The airline is hoping to move some passengers onto flights operated by Eurowings and Eurowings Discover because these airlines aren’t affected by the strike action.
This is the 16th strike by pilots at Lufthansa since 2014. A one-day warning strike by Lufthansa’s ground workers in July grounded at least 1,000 flights and left 134,000 passengers stranded after the airline was forced to nix almost its entire schedule from its Frankfurt and Munich hubs.
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.