Months of negotiations have failed, and after the pilots’ union Cockpit (VC) had its members vote on a strike at the end of July, the time has now come. Lufthansa will be on strike on Friday. The company could not say how many flights were canceled on Thursday morning. Lufthansa asks its customers to keep themselves informed on Lufthansa.com. The pilots’ union called on its members to strike on September 2 from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo departures at all German airports are affected.
Lufthansa has to cancel 800 flights at the hubs in Frankfurt and Munich for Friday, and some flights will also be canceled this Thursday. 130,000 passengers are expected to be affected. Customers affected by cancellations “will be informed immediately and, if possible, rebooked on alternative flights,” said Lufthansa.
With a view to the coming weekend, the end of the holidays in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, Lufthansa is working flat out to normalize flight operations as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, the effects of the strike can still lead to individual flight cancellations or delays on Saturday and Sunday. The Lufthansa subsidiaries Eurowings and Eurowings Discover are not affected by the strike.
“Aware of our responsibility for companies and guests, we wanted to leave no stone unturned and offered another negotiation date despite an inadequate offer and failed negotiations,” said the VC. But Lufthansa did not submit an improved offer on Wednesday. “Therefore, the only thing left for us to do is to enforce our demands with a labor dispute.” The ground staff also went on strike at the end of July. At the beginning of August there was a wage agreement with Verdi, which is responsible for around 20,000 ground workers. Depending on the job, the salaries of the employees will increase in several stages by 13.6 to 18.4 percent. The VC Cockpit represents around 9600 pilots.
Michael Niggemann, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Director at Deutsche Lufthansa AG, condemned the dispute and defended the employer’s tariff offer as “very good and socially balanced”, although the airline is still suffering from the “lingering burdens of the Corona crisis and uncertain prospects for the global economy”. Specifically, an offer was presented in which pilots received a total of 900 euros more basic remuneration per month in two stages. A career starter as a co-pilot will receive more than 18 percent additional basic remuneration at the end of the 18-month term of the new tariff, and a captain five percent.
Alternatively, the VC was offered to redistribute all or part of this volume, for example for structural changes such as adjustments to the remuneration table. In a first step, VC is demanding 5.5 percent more wages by the end of the year, and from January 2023, additional compensation above inflation. According to current estimates, this will increase the cockpit personnel costs of Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo by a good 16 percent over the two-year period proposed by VC.
In addition, VC is demanding, among other things, a new salary table with higher basic salaries and more money, for example for sick days, vacation or training. In addition to the 16 percent, this increases the cockpit personnel costs by a further 25 percentage points based on empirical values, which is “outside of what is reasonable” for Lufthansa. Because, according to the company, the cockpit personnel costs of 2.2 billion euros would increase by more than 40 percent or around 900 million euros over the next two years if the VC requirements were implemented.
Nowhere in the group is more invested than in job growth at Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo, the company said. The group also includes Eurowings, Swiss, Austria and Brussels Airlines. Since 2010 around 60 percent of all new aircraft have been used by Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo. By 2024, the group expects 33 new, state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft, all of which are to go to Lufthansa, including the associated jobs. The number of cockpit jobs at Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo grew by 18 percent between 2010 and the outbreak of the Corona crisis, and by as much as 45 percent at the Munich hub. In addition, many new captain positions have been created, this year alone there will be 125. This is also why, according to HR manager Niggemann, the pilots’ strike is disproportionate.