Taking on the pilots “is not about being tough,” but “about the future of Lufthansa,” Mr Spohr said in Berlin on the eve of a second day of walkouts by cockpit crew. If the company caves in to pay demands it has “no chance of survival” he said.
Lufthansa has already canceled almost 1,900 flights, wiping out 40% of the timetable and disrupting travel for more than 215,000 people.
Scrapped services will top 2,600 by the end of a third day of action today, taking the number of passengers impacted to 315,000. Lufthansa has said each day of strikes has so far cost about €10m, with Friday’s action set to cost half that.
A long-running spat over wages, working conditions and the expansion of Lufthansa’s low-cost Eurowings arm has reached new levels of bitterness after Mr Spohr sought to block the strike. When a Frankfurt labour court dismissed the case and an appeal failed, the Vereinigung Cockpit union retaliated by extending the protest by two more days.
The union is seeking a 20% raise for 2012 through 2017, or 3.7% a year. Lufthansa has offered 2.5%, or 0.38% annually, through 2018.