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Lufthansa pilots to strike

AFP/DDP/The Local · 17 Feb 2010, 15:20

Published: 17 Feb 2010 10:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Feb 2010 15:20 GMT+01:00

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Ninety-three percent of the airline's 4,500 pilots backed heading to the picket line for four days starting Monday, according to their union Cockpit.

The first wave of stoppages would start at midnight on Monday and run until 11:59 pm on Thursday, and would also affect Lufthansa's huge cargo business and its Germanwings subsidiary, the trade union Cockpit said.

"All 4,000 pilots working on those days are called upon to strike," union official Ilona Ritter said. "Lufthansa management bears all the responsibility for this dispute."

The airline, which operates around 800,000 flights around the world every year, is drawing up emergency plans including putting customers from several flights onto larger aircraft and providing train tickets, newspapers said.

"We are preparing for different scenarios with different measures with the aim of limiting the impact on passengers as much as possible," said Lufthansa spokeswoman Claudia Lange.

Lufthansa was hit nine years ago by the worst strike in the airline's history that went on for four months and cost the German firm millions of euros.

"It's going to be around the same scale this time," the Rheinische Post cited an official at the Cockpit trade union as saying. "Small warning strikes are insufficient. The differences are too fundamental this time."

"Only if Lufthansa makes a last-minute offer will industrial action be avoided," a Cockpit spokesman told the paper.

European airlines have been fighting for survival for several years as they battle with the triple whammy of budget airlines poaching customers with low prices, soaring high fuel costs and the worst global recession in decades.

In response, they have sought to consolidate, as seen in Air France's mega-merger with Dutch KLM, and by attempting to cut costs wherever they can, including by slashing jobs and levels of service.

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Lufthansa saw sales slump over 13 percent in the first nine months of 2009, the latest figures available, with operating income sliding 76 percent and a net loss of €32 million.

Talks between Lufthansa and unions collapsed in acrimony in December, with Cockpit demanding a pay increase of 6.4 percent for the next 12 months and commitments that Lufthansa's German pilots would keep their jobs.

Pilots fear that their jobs could go as Lufthansa steps up use of foreign affiliates like Swiss, Austrian Airlines and British Midland instead of its own aircraft. They are so worried about their jobs that they are willing to compromise on their salary demands, the union says.

AFP/DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:55 February 17, 2010 by wood artist
Maybe these folks need to wake up and smell the coffee. 6% raises in this economy? Crazy. They should be happy they still have jobs...like the rest of us. This is not the time to Demand things that simply can not be done.

Although it may not be true in the airline industry, or Lufthansa in particular, many union jobs have gone away simply because the unions have "forced" employers to pay too much...and non-union firms have taken the work. Labor costs can simply price you completely out of the market. It's about time some union members stopped lamenting their plight and awakened to the realities of the times.

Work for a little less, continue to have a job, and help keep the company afloat...or strike for more, bankrupt the company in a struggling economy and then complain because I don't have a job? Hmmmmmm. This is a tough decision.

23:58 February 17, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, I flew with Lufthansa in September. And it was an absolutely wonderful experience. And I therefore recommend them to anyone. And I'm thinking about taking Swiss on my next trip to Europe. I assume that the service will be equally as good. But if pilots start striking, then everything would change.

The world is differenct now. There is no longer lots of money to pass around. Even rich people are making adjustments.

And therefore I hope that someone within Lufthansa's pilots union will realize this.
08:18 February 18, 2010 by wood artist
Logic...make no mistake. I would (and will) fly with Lufthansa any time I can. I have a flight pair booked in April/May...and I hope the heck this is settled by then. I have never had a bad experience with Lufthansa, and seldom have even an adequate experience with US carriers. Lufthansa sets the standard for service in my book.

I'm just sad to see that some folks don't understand the times in which we live right now.

15:33 February 19, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Customer service in Germany??!! The mother of oxymorons.
16:13 February 19, 2010 by cbatchelor
Well I'm glad British Airways isn't the only one left with striking problems.

I took an Augsburg airways flight the other day and it was really nice,but equally Lufthansa has been my "back-up" and has dug me out of many a nasty situation,which of course I am thankful for.If they are unhappy why shouldn't they strike-that is a privilege for those that work!
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