Lufthansa strike grounds an­other 100,000 pas­sen­gers

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

BERLIN: Lufthansa scrapped 930 more flights yes­ter­day, ground­ing 100,000 pas­sen­gers af­ter a court al­lowed cabin staff to press on with a strike that is shap­ing up to be the worst in the Ger­man air­line’s history. The new flight can­cel­la­tions in and out of Ger­many’s big­gest air­port, Frank­furt, as well as hubs in Mu­nich and Dues­sel­dorf, come af­ter four days of stop­pages that had al­ready forced the air­line to can­cel 2,800 flights, leav­ing 300,000 pas­sen­gers stranded.

The in­dus­trial ac­tion over a dis­pute with the UFO flight at­ten­dants union re­gard­ing cost cuts be­gan on Fri­day with a pause on Sun­day, and is set to go on un­til Fri­day.

Lufthansa had sought to chal­lenge the le­gal­ity of the in­dus­trial ac­tion through court in­junc­tions but lost a key bid af­ter the labour court of Darm­stadt, which has ju­ris­dic­tion for Frank­furt and Mu­nich air­ports, ap­proved the strike.

The court dis­missed the air­line’s ar­gu­ment that the union’s rea­sons for strik­ing were “too vague” and un­jus­ti­fied un­der Ger­man labour law. The UFO union wel­comed the rul­ing on its web­site, call­ing for the strike to con­tinue from 0300 GMT yes­ter­day un­til 2300 GMT on Fri­day across all flights at Frank­furt, Mu­nich and Dues­sel­dorf air­ports.

Lufthansa in a state­ment said it stood by its po­si­tion that “the rea­sons for the strike were not de­fined clearly enough” and said it will de­cide its “next steps” yes­ter­day.

The set­back came af­ter an ear­lier sym­bolic vic­tory for the air­line dealt by an­other court which ruled that the strike af­fect­ing Dues­sel­dorf air­port was il­le­gal-but that judge­ment was ef­fec­tively use­less as it was lim­ited to Tues­day only and came hours af­ter flights had been can­celled.

The same court was due to is­sue later yes­ter­day a rul­ing for the re­main­ing pe­riod of the strike. The air­line has been locked in a bat­tle that erupted nearly two years ago with cabin crew over early re­tire­ment pro­vi­sions which the union wants un­changed. But Lufthansa ar­gues that the sys­tem is too ex­pen­sive in the face of cut-throat com­pe­ti­tion from low-cost op­er­a­tors such as Ryanair and Easyjet.

Late Mon­day, the air­line pre­sented a new of­fer to the union, with im­proved bonuses and re­tire­ment pro­vi­sions, but UFO called it un­ac­cept­able. This is the first time that cabin staff have staged walk­outs in the long-run­ning dis­pute, which does not af­fect Lufthansa’s sub­sidiaries Ger­man­wings, Eurow­ings, Lufthansa City­Line, SWISS, Aus­trian Air­lines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Air­lines.

It is also sep­a­rate from an­other tus­sle be­tween man­age­ment and pi­lots over the com­pany’s plans to change the early re­tire­ment ar­range­ments for pi­lots. Lufthansa wants to scrap an ar­range­ment un­der which pi­lots can re­tire at 55 and re­ceive up to 60 per­cent of their pay un­til they reach the statu­tory re­tire­ment age of 65. The pi­lots, who are con­cerned about Lufthansa’s aim to fur­ther de­velop its low-cost ac­tiv­i­ties, have staged re­peated walk­outs since 2014, cost­ing the air­line 350 mil­lion eu­ros ($375 mil­lion). De­spite the com­pet­i­tive air­line en­vi­ron­ment, Lufthansa said last week it was rais­ing its full-year fore­casts af­ter low oil prices and pos­i­tive pas­sen­ger num­bers lifted prof­its in the third quar­ter. — AFP

FRANK­FURT: A board dis­play­ing can­celled Lufthansa flights can be seen be­hind the logo of Ger­man air­line Lufthansa yes­ter­day at the air­port in Frank­furt am Main, western Ger­many. — AFP

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