22-Feb-2010 10:04 AM

Lufthansa faces first major strike since 2001; expected to cost EUR100 million; cuts schedule by 66%

Lufthansa stated (19-Feb-2010) it is preparing for strike action by its pilots today (22-Feb-2010), releasing an adjusted flight schedule for the 22/25-Feb-2010 period, after the Vereinigung Cockpit Union rejected the carrier's latest offer to discuss “constructive solutions” on job guarantees for the carrier's pilots (Bloomberg/AFP/Euronews/CNN/ Bild am Sonntag, 21-Feb-2010. It will be the carrier's first major strike since 2001, with details as follows:

  • Strike duration: Four days from 22-Feb-2010;
  • Union demand: The Vereinigung Cockpit is requesting the airline extend pay and conditions to foreign-based crews for uniform pay and workplace conditions. The union is also seeking a 6.4% pay rise, more influence in company decisions and commitments that pilot jobs would be maintained when Lufthansa shifts passengers to foreign affiliate airlines;
  • Pilot involvement: Approximately 4,500 Lufthansa pilots will strike for a four-day period, with 94% of the union members voting to strike;
  • Financial impact of strike: Lufthansa stated the strike may cost approximately EUR33 million per day;
  • Effect on passengers: Approximately 1,200 of the carrier’s 1,800 daily services at its main division and its regional subsidiaries (subsidiaries including Germanwings and Lufthansa Cargo will be affected) have been cancelled over the four-day period. The carrier added that the strike may disrupt travel on more than two dozen partner airlines. Regional services operated by regional parties, such as Lufthansa CityLine, however, will not be affected and will operate according to schedule. Lufthansa-codeshared services, operated by another airline, will operate as planned;
  • Government response: German Transport Minister, Peter Ramsauer, called for the two sides to return to the negotiating table, stating, “a strike like this is happening at just the wrong moment. The biggest German fleet cannot be virtually grounded for four days”. Meanwhile, Federation of German Industries (BDI) warned that German exporters would be heavily affected if the strike proceeded;
  • Responses by other airlines: FlyNiki stated it plans to increase connections to German destinations from 22-Feb-2010, in response to the strike (Wiener Zeitung, 18-Feb-2010). Austrian Airlines also plans to operate additional flights. German railway operator, Deutsche Bahn AG, meanwhile stated it will coordinate with Lufthansa on transporting stranded passengers on domestic routes (Bloomberg, 19-Feb-2010). TUI Travel meanwhile stated it would be little affected by the strike, as less than 5% of customers are scheduled on Lufthansa services. [more - Lufthansa] [more - Germanwings]

Lufthansa: “We’ve already spelled out our conditions for resuming talks: the offer to call legal arbitration on the issue of exporting tariff accords abroad is unacceptable to us. We’re preparing for a strike as Cockpit has evidently failed to remove the main obstacle,” Stefanie Stotz, spokeswoman. Source: Bloomberg, 21-Feb-2010.

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