Lufthansa Cancels Monday Flights as Strikes Expand to Munich
Deutsche Lufthansa AG cancelled almost 1,000 flights for Monday after a union for its striking cabin crews announced plans to expand its work stoppages to Munich airport. The airline said it was ready to resume labour negotiations.
UFO, the flight attendants’ union, said talks with the airline over disputed retirement rules collapsed, triggering the resumption of strikes after a pause on Sunday. Day-long walkouts began at 4:30 a.m. Monday in Munich, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf and are set to continue for at least 18 1/2 hours. Work stoppages in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf on Saturday cancelled about 520 flights.
Lufthansa will announce further steps at about 6 p.m. on Monday after board meetings to discuss the ramifications of the labor action, which the company described as “without precedent in Lufthansa history” in an e-mailed statement late on Sunday.
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, adding that it is “always ready for the resumption of talks.”
The German carrier on Sunday announced the cancellation of 929 flights to and from the three cities, disrupting plans for about 113,000 passengers. The strike won’t affect about 70 per cent of the airline’s services, according to the statement.
UFO’s announcement shows dissatisfaction with the airline’s claim that it is ready to conciliate. The airline on Sunday said that it gave the union a modified offer on 5 November showing it was “prepared to accept all the union’s demands for the employees.”
Following a nine-hour walkout in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf on Friday, the flight attendants held a 17-hour work stoppage on Saturday that led to flight cancellations affecting 58,000 people at both airports. The union’s action targeted domestic and European flights.
UFO members may take further action on Tuesday, the union said. Labor leaders have vowed to call strikes until 13 November. They criticized Lufthansa’s stance after the airline increased its earnings forecast for the year on 29 October and a drop in oil prices contributed to a 51 per cent surge in third-quarter operating profit.
The strike could become the longest by Lufthansa’s cabin crews. The flight attendants’ previous large-scale walkout was a three-day protest in 2012 that cost the carrier €33 million ($35 million) after 1,500 flights were scrapped. That compares with the €352 million and 9,700 cancellations tied to a series of pilot strikes since last year.
UFO has agreed to a switch of Lufthansa’s pension system to a defined-contribution program from defined benefits. The airline said last week that the union is seeking to maintain payments at previous levels, while Lufthansa wants employees to work additional years to reach that figure.
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland