Lufthansa Union Prolongs Strike to Record With Tuesday Halt Plan
Deutsche Lufthansa is headed for its longest strike loss ever as cabin crews extend a walkout into Tuesday.
The UFO union is asking flight attendants serving on long- haul planes from Lufthansa’s main Frankfurt and Munich hubs, plus employees in Dusseldorf, not to work, the labor group said Monday in a statement. UFO’s campaign against Lufthansa’s efforts to curb retirement benefits has already hampered travel for three of the past four days. The stoppage Tuesday will hit mainly intercontinental services, the carrier’s most lucrative.
Lufthansa has had to scrap more than 1,700 flights since Friday, making the conflict the airline’s most disruptive by flight attendants. A related protest by Lufthansa pilots led to 9,700 cancellations in 2014 and more than 3,100 this year. Those stoppages ended in September, when a German court ruled in September the most recent halt marked an illegal move by the pilots’ union to fight corporate strategy in which labor doesn’t have a say. The verdict applied to one walkout only and doesn’t extend to cabin crews, who negotiate contracts separately.
Lufthansa estimates that the 18 months of strikes by pilots through September cost the Cologne, Germany-based company 352 million euros ($379 million). That’s short of the 425 million- euro hit that Air France-KLM Group incurred from a pilots strike in the second half of September. Lufthansa hasn’t yet given any figures for the costs caused by the cabin-crew work halts. The longest previous set of walkouts by flight attendants at Lufthansa was three days of stoppages in late August and early September 2012.
The German company said Monday that it will announce further steps at about 6 p.m. after board meetings to discuss the ramifications of the labor action, which the airline described as “without precedent in Lufthansa history.”
Flight attendants went on strike on Monday at 4:30 a.m. in Munich, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, sparking 929 flights cancellations. That followed nine hours of walkouts in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf that led to scrapping of 290 services on Friday and a 17-hour halt that caused 520 cancellations on Saturday. UFO suspended striking on Sunday to spare German holidaymakers returning home at the end of a school vacation. The union said that talks with the airline over the disputed retirement rules collapsed, triggering the resumption of the protests.
The airline is “doing everything it can to mitigate the impact of this utterly excessive action on its customers as much as possible,” it said late Sunday. Lufthansa management is “always ready for the resumption of talks.”
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland