Lufthansa pilots begin strike

Lufthansa pilots began the first of two days of strike action yesterday in a long-running dispute over early retirement benefits and cost-cutting plans which shows no sign of ending.

Lufthansa pilots begin strike

The German airline is trying to cut costs and expand budget operations as it tries to compete with low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet in Europe and Gulf rivals such as Emirates.

However, attempts to renegotiate collective labour deals, including retirement benefits, have been resisted by pilots at union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), which staged 10 strikes last year.

The strike, the second this year, affects short- and medium-haul operations at Lufthansa’s namesake brand and the carrier has cancelled 750 out of a scheduled 1,400 flights. Lufthansa cancelled 84 of its 153 long-haul flights planned for today, but said it would be able to operate all cargo flights.

Equinet analyst Jochen Rothenbacher estimates the latest strikes will cost the carrier around €15m a day in lost profit and said the dispute could last a long time.

“It’s very very important for Lufthansa to bring their costs down to a level at which they can continue to compete,” he said. “IAG has already done a good job of this.”

Lufthansa is not the only European carrier to have faced disputes with pilots over efforts to keep costs down — Air France-KLM and Norwegian Air Shuttle have been hit by costly strikes in recent months.

Air France-KLM scaled back budget expansion plans after a walkout by its pilots last year.

Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr has vowed to stay firm in the dispute and has said Lufthansa will raise fleet and staff numbers at its main passenger operations only if employees agree to concessions.

Spohr has said Lufthansa is getting better at coping with the strikes.

For example, unit Austrian Airlines is using larger aircraft to take Lufthansa passengers, while its Cologne-based Germanwings unit, also unaffected by yesterday’s strike, has taken on some Frankfurt flights.

A spokesman for VC said it wanted Lufthansa to show more willingness to compromise. The pilots also want Lufthansa to agree to mediation covering early retirement benefits and other outstanding pay and cost-cutting issues, but the carrier has rejected this.

Lufthansa has called on VC to return to negotiations, but the union said no date had yet been set for talks.


More in this section

Budget 2022 Logo

What impact will this  year's budget have on you and your business.

The Business Hub

News and analysis on business, money and jobs from Munster and beyond by our expert team of business writers.

Sign up
Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up

Our Covid-free newsletter brings together some of the best bits from, as chosen by our editor, direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up