Air, Freight News

Lufthansa Pilots Union Pushes for Second Week of Strikes

[ November 29, 2016   //   ]

As printed in the November 29, 2016 edition of the Wall Street Journal:
Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s principal pilots union is escalating the battle with Germany’s largest airline as it seeks to disrupt flights into a second week.
Lufthansa last week had to cancel thousands of flights after pilots grounded much of the German flag carrier’s operations over four days of strikes in a protracted dispute over employment terms. The labor unrest so far is estimated to have cost Lufthansa more than $20 million.
Lufthansa’s main pilots union, Vereinigung Cockpit, late Sunday said it had called on pilots operating short-haul flights not report to work on Tuesday. The union has also appealed to pilots flying the more lucrative long-haul services to join the walkout the following day.
Lufthansa hasn’t said, yet, how many flights would be canceled during the two days.
Lufthansa has suffered a series of pilot and cabin crew strikes in recent years as it seeks to lower costs to compete more effectively against lower-cost rivals. The carrier’s short-haul business is under pressure from discount rivals such as Ryanair Holdings PLC and Middle East carriers are stealing long-haul business by offering lower fares.
Jörg Handwerg, a labor representative, said the renewed strike was being called after talks with the carrier to bridge the differences over pay increases and other issues failed.
Lufthansa said it was disappointed the union wasn’t willing to continue with talks and was instead escalating the conflict.
Last week’s three days of strikes affected more than 345,000 passengers and led to 2,755 flight cancellations, the airline said.
Lufthansa said its sister carriers Eurowings, Germanwings, Swiss International Air Lines, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Airlines wouldn’t be affected.
The latest strike comes at the end of a difficult year for Lufthansa and other European carriers. Overcapacity has depressed ticket prices, and terrorist attacks have depressed bookings.