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Lufthansa To Cancel Further Flights

By Dave Simpson

German airline Lufthansa LHAG.DE will cancel further domestic and European flights from Frankfurt airport between Friday 8 July and Thursay July 14, it said on Thursday 7 July.

Earlier, broadcaster n-tv reported that a further 19% of flights would be cancelled.

German Investor Kuehne Boosts Stake In Lufthansa To 15%

The above news followed news that German logistics entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kuehne has increased his stake in Lufthansa LHAG.DE to 15% from 10%, making him the biggest shareholder in the German flag carrier and pushing shares in the airline higher on Thursday 7 July.

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Logistics companies, which have benefited from surging profits from ocean shipping due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have increasingly invested in other forms of transport, such as air freight, to add resilience to global supply chains and protect against a downturn.

Kuehne, an 85-year-old German billionaire, is the controlling shareholder of Swiss logistics firm Kuehne & Nagel KNIN.S and has a 30% stake in container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd AG HLAG.DE.

His stake in Lufthansa rose to 15.01% as of July 5, up from approximately 10%, the airline said in a regulatory statement late on Wednesday 7 July.

At Wednesday's closing price, 5% of shares in Lufthansa were worth approximately €330 million.

The news pushed the shares more than 3% higher on Thursday 7 July.

Lufthansa said it was pleased about the investment and that it was a sign of faith in its strategy and prospects for the future.

Kuehne has said in the past that he aimed to be a long-term, stable and reliable partner for Lufthansa.

"Having a private main investor is not a bad thing," Bernstein Research analyst Alexander Irving said, adding that Kuehne could become a candidate to buy the German government's stake in Lufthansa.

The German government holds a stake of approximately 14% in Lufthansa following a bailout during the pandemic, which the airline has said it plans to sell by October 2023.

Lufthansa Staff Call For An End To Cost-Cutting Amid Airport Chaos

All of the above news followed news that Lufthansa LHAG.DE staff have called on the German flag carrier to end its "cost-cutting craziness", accusing the airline of mismanagement and contributing to the recent chaos at airports by laying off too many workers.

In a letter to the supervisory board seen by Reuters on Wednesday 6 July, staff representatives said there are too few employees to handle booming summer demand and they need to be given the right conditions to perform at their best.

Chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley said in a message to employees that he was aware of employees' reports of aggression and in some cases even physical attacks by customers, "of despair and tears, of helplessness while remaining loyal to Lufthansa."

"I have not seen such an accumulation of problems in my career," he said in the message published on the Lufthansa intranet and seen by Reuters later on Wednesday 6 July.

Airspace closures and spare parts shortages due to the chip crisis are making the situation even worse, Kley said, adding he expects flight cancellations, staff recruitment and other measures introduced by Lufthansa to gradually bear fruit.

Lufthansa had slashed jobs and other costs during the coronavirus pandemic, which grounded most flights, and found itself understaffed just as it was trying to capitalize on the returning summer travel demand.

Lufthansa staff had warned "a service company that is run against its own staff has no future."

Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr apologised to employees and customers in late June, saying the airline "did go too far in cutting costs here and there."

Lufthansa is not the only struggling European airline as the whole aviation industry faces a summer of travel disruption amid looming walkouts.

Pilots of Scandinavian airline SAS SAS.ST went on strike, British Airways staff at London's Heathrow airport in June voted to strike over pay, and Spanish-based cabin crew at Ryanair RYA.I and easyJet EZJ.L plan to strike this month to demand better working conditions. Workers at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport stopped work at the weekend to demand a pay rise.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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