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Lufthansa Cabin Crews Reject New Offer as Strikes Continue

By Publications Checkout

Lufthansa’s cabin crew union ignored an improved offer for pay and retirement benefits, continuing the longest strike by flight attendants in the airline’s history.

Lufthansa cancelled 126 long-haul and 10 European connections on Tuesday, affecting about 27,300 passengers, as crews began walkouts at 4:30am in Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf. Its website also lists 34 flights scheduled to depart on Wednesday as cancelled. That lifts the tally for the walkouts, which began 6 November to a record 1,900 scrapped services.

The carrier on Monday offered a one-time payment of €3,000 per employee, compared with €2,000 proposed earlier, and said it will agree to the union’s key demands regarding early retirement benefits, though new hires wouldn’t get such perks. Lufthansa also said it will scale back flights in some regions next year. Nicoley Baublies, head of the UFO labor union, called the new offer a “provocation.”

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UFO’s campaign against Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa’s efforts to curb retirement terms has hampered travel for four of the past five days, and this week has mainly involved intercontinental services, the carrier’s most lucrative business. An invitation by Lufthansa late Monday to resume talks was subject to the strike being called off immediately and is no longer valid, said Helmut Tolksdorf, a spokesman for the airline.

Lufthansa fell as much as 1.4 percent to 13.33 euros and was trading down 1.3 percent at 10:12 a.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has dropped 3.5 per cent this year, valuing the airline at €6.2 billion.

The dispute is part of Lufthansa’s broader struggles with labour as it seeks to push through restructuring plans to better compete with low-cost rivals like Ryanair and EasyJet, Europe’s two biggest discount carriers. The key to Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr’s effort is the development of Lufthansa’s Eurowings division into a low-cost arm.

“Spohr made it clear that he will not accept any deal with the unions that would dilute the Eurowings model,” Johannes Braun, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, wrote in a report to clients. “Eurowings will remain outside the group collective labor agreement and is clearly intended to create internal competition and thus to increase pressure on mainline staff for concessions.”

News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland

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