Hundreds of flights grounded as Lufthansa pilots strike again

November 29, 2016 3:00 pm

Closed check-in desks are seen during a Lufthansa pilots’ strike at Munich Airport, , November 28, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Lufthansa’s labor dispute seems to be far from over. The German flag carrier had to ground hundreds of flights on Tuesday, as pilots started a two-day strike demanding better pay.
The fresh strikes will leave as many as 1,700 flights canceled and thousands of passengers stranded over two days. The German airline said that Tuesday’s walkout targeted only short-haul flights, while Wednesday’s action would affect both short- and long-haul services.
The airline’s Cockpit union called for the resumption of strikes after a new round of talks over wages ended without a result. On Friday, Lufthansa offered to increase pilots’ pay by 4.4 percent in two installments by mid-2018. But the offer was turned down by the union.
Having estimated the daily losses from the walkout at around 9 million euros, the German airline sought to avert a fresh strike by asking a labor court to block the action on the grounds that it was illegal.  However, the court in Munich rejected the request on Monday, ruling that the planned strike measures were “not evidently illegal” and could therefore continue.
The pilots are demanding an annual average pay rise of 3.7 percent for a period of 5 years. But the airline argues that it would not survive such an increase as it would make many routes unprofitable.
This is the 14th strike by Lufthansa pilots since April 2014. Most recently, a four-day strike grounded over 2,800 flights and affected more than 350,000 passengers last week.
The pilot and cabin crew strikes over pay and conditions have in recent years cost Germany’s largest carrier hundreds of millions of euros in lost operating profit. This as Lufthansa is seeking to cut costs to compete more effectively with low-cost rivals which offer cheap airfare.
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