Lufthansa’s new wholly-owned leisure airline Eurowings Discover says it is now allowing flight attendants to show off visible tattoos while in uniform but critics of the airline claim the more lenient rules are coming at the expense of pay and conditions.
The Flights Attendants Union (UFO), which represents cabin crew at Lufthansa and several other German airlines, describe Eurowings Discover as ‘Ryanair 2.0‘ where management “ignores” the concerns and needs of flight attendants.
The airline is little more than a year old and was created by Lufthansa as a wholly-owned leisure carrier that will mainly take over existing routes from other Lufthansa Group airlines from its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.
At its core is a lower operating model, including lower-paid pilots, flight attendants and ground staff compared to their counterparts at the mainline Lufthansa airline.
To complicate matters, ‘Eurowings Discover’ shouldn’t be confused with ‘Eurowings’ which has a separate air operator certificate and management team and only operates short-haul flights across Europe. In contrast, Eurowings Discover operates short, medium and long-haul services.
Eurowings Discover has also adopted a more relaxed approach to its uniform policy according to the German publication Aero Telegraph, and flight attendants are allowed to display visible tattoos in uniform.
Crew can even wear nose and tongue piercings and makeup and nail polish are allowed, regardless of gender.
But Eurowings Discover pays its flight attendants lower wages than other flight attendants across the Lufthansa Group, according to the union which also claims the airline is refusing to discuss a collective bargaining agreement.
Rather than collectively agreed rules that govern working hours and rest periods, Eurowings Discover only abides by rules set by Europe’s air safety authority. The so-called ‘flight time regulations’ dictate the maximum hours that aircrew are allowed to work but flight attendants at other Lufthansa Group airlines generally work fewer hours because of their collective bargaining agreements.
The UFO would also like Eurowings Discover flight attendants to have a collective bargaining agreement. The airline, however, has rebuffed the union’s demands to negotiate a contract on three separate occasions, and now the UFO is considering escalating the dispute.
That could potentially even lead to strike action, but the UFO has a problem – it first needs more flight attendants to join the union to make any action effective. In the meantime, Eurowings Discover says it has already agreed on wage increases last month and supports the creation of a ‘works council’.
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.