German airline Lufthansa is set to cancel 800 flights on Friday after the pilots’ union announced a one-day strike, starting at midnight, over non-approval of wage hikes. The strike would affect up to 130,000 passengers, airline Lufthansa said in a press release.
The Vereinigung Cockpit union told Reuters news agency that wage negotiations had failed and Lufthansa pilots would stage a 24-hour strike beginning just after midnight on Thursday, affecting both passenger and cargo services.
Flight cancellations would affect Frankfurt and Munich airports, the airlines noted, adding that several flights were also canceled on Thursday.
The union has demanded a 5.5% wage increase this year for its more than 5,000 pilots and automatic inflation compensation thereafter.
“We hope to resume negotiations as soon as possible,” a Lufthansa spokesman said Thursday. “However, we also cannot afford the cost increases associated with VC requests.”
“To the detriment of thousands of customers”
Lufthansa has faced multiple strikes by security guards and ground staff this year. The airline faced a one-day walkout called by Germany’s powerful Verdi union in July, which affected its flights at domestic hubs Frankfurt and Munich.
Lufthansa said it was doing everything possible to minimize the effects of Friday’s strike called by the pilots’ union, but it could not rule out cancellations or delays on some routes over the weekend.
“We cannot understand VC’s call for a strike. Management made a very good and socially balanced offer – despite the lingering burdens of the Covid crisis and the uncertain outlook for the global economy. This escalation is to the detriment of several thousand customers. This escalation is at the expense of many thousands of customers,” said Michael Niggemann, Lufthansa Board Member responsible for human resources.
Lufthansa has offered a total of 900 euros ($901.35) more basic salary per month in two stages over an 18-month term as well as an agreement guaranteeing cockpit staff a minimum fleet size.
Several other airlines have also been forced to cancel thousands of flights this summer and caused hour-long queues at major airports, frustrating holidaymakers keen to travel after Covid-19 closures due to strikes and staff shortages.
Germany’s cartel office has also banned Lufthansa from ending long-term cooperation agreements with charter airline Condor until further notice, saying the flag carrier is preventing Condor from competing on long-haul routes.
Lufthansa said it took note of the cartel office’s decision, adding: “However, we do not share the opinion of the Bundeskartellamt and will therefore subject the decision to judicial review.”