After pilots began a one-day protest on Friday over wages and working conditions, Lufthansa was forced to cancel 800 flights.
Nearly all of the flights scheduled by the German national airline out of its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich have been canceled, leaving about 130,000 passengers stranded.
When the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union informed the media on Wednesday night that last-ditch negotiations had failed because Lufthansa had failed to provide a “sufficient” offer, it provided less than 24 hours’ warning for Friday’s walkout.
According to Lufthansa, it has offered pilots a wage raise of 900 euros per month, to be paid in two installments over the course of 18 months. Junior pilots were expected to gain the most from the deal, while a newly hired First Officer was expected to see their pay rise by about 20%.
Senior Captain level pilots would only have benefited from a 5% pay increase, and the offer was worth less to pilots with longer tenure as a percentage of their entire compensation. Germany’s inflation rate is currently significantly higher than 5%.
“We lack any understanding of the VC’s call for strikes,” slammed Lufthansa’s head of human resources Michael Niggemann ahead of the walkout.
“The employer side has made a very good and socially balanced offer – despite the retroactive burden of the corona crisis and uncertain prospects for the global economy.”
According to Lufthansa, VC is requesting numerous significant contract revisions in addition to salary increases above inflation. According to the airline, complying with the VC’s criteria would increase expenses by 900 million euros over the following two years.
Because pilots and aircraft will be out of position over the weekend, Niggemann has issued a warning that there may be flight disruptions. Since Eurowings and Eurowings Discover are unaffected by the strike, the airline is aiming to transfer some passengers to those flights.
Since 2014, there have been 16 pilot strikes at Lufthansa. When Lufthansa’s ground staff went on a one-day warning strike in July, the airline was forced to cancel nearly the entire schedule from its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, which resulted in the cancellation of at least 1,000 flights and the stranding of 134,000 passengers.