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STRIKES

Pilots at German low-cost airline Eurowings to strike

Eurowings pilots will go on a one-day strike on Thursday after negotiations on improving working conditions at the low-cost German airline broke down, their union said.

Airplanes, including a Eurowings plane, at Hamburg airport.
Airplanes, including a Eurowings plane, at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bodo Marks

The employees of the Lufthansa subsidiary were seeking a reduction in maximum flying time as well as an increase in rest periods, the Cockpit union (VC) said, adding current agreements had not been updated since 2015.

“The workload has increased significantly. The employer regularly pushes staff to the maximum permitted limit,” said Matthias Baier, a Cockpit spokesman.

After several rounds of talks failed, “the only option left for us is to advance our demands via a labour dispute,” he said.

The union said it remained open to further talks. The strike at the low-cost German air carrier will last from midnight on Wednesday for 24 hours. 

READ ALSO: Eurowings plans 10-percent fare hike amid flight chaos in Germany

The number of flight cancellations depends on how well the airline manages to organise replacement connections, Baier said. The strike doesn’t involve Eurowings Discover.

“We are open to talks about how we can achieve reasonable working hours for Eurowings employees in the long term,” added Marcel Gröls, chairman of the VC union bargaining committee.

So far, however, it has not been possible to agree on a common path with the employer, he said. “It’s not enough to sit at the negotiating table, you also have to bring the will to find solutions and not present counter-demands as an offer.”

The European aviation sector has been hit by a growing number of strikes in recent months among pilots, cabin crew and ground staff.

High inflation has triggered calls for pay hikes, while the sector also faces a shortage of workers after many jobs were cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lufthansa pilots agreed last month not to go on strike again until at least the end of June next year under a pay deal negotiated with the airline.

READ ALSO: Pilots at German airline Lufthansa suspend strikes through June 2023

It comes after a summer of chaos due to staff shortages as travel picked up again when pandemic restrictions were loosened. 

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DEUTSCHE BAHN

ICE 3neo: Deutsche Bahn’s speediest train makes first trip in Germany

The high-speed train took off for the first time with paying passengers on the Frankfurt-Cologne route.

ICE 3neo: Deutsche Bahn's speediest train makes first trip in Germany

The new express trains can reach a top speed of 320 kilometres per hour – up from the previous 300 km/hour – and will mainly travel on special “speedways”, initially between Dortmund, Cologne, Stuttgart and Munich. 

Connections to Brussels and Amsterdam are set to follow in 2024. The trains will be featured on Deutsche Bahn’s new schedule set to come out on December 11th. 

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in December 2022

From the outside, the Siemens-built train looks nearly identical to the current ICE 3 model, but the main improvements can be seen from the inside, said DB in a statement. 

Above all, the new trains boast better lighting, mobile radio-transparent windows and space for eight bicycles. In addition, a fast lifting platform has been built to make it easier for wheelchair users or people with disabilities to get on board.     

Deutsche Bahn ordered a total of 73 ICE 3neo trains from manufacturer Siemens, four of which have already been delivered, it said. 

The last train is to be delivered in 2029 at the latest, with the new line-up to cost Deutsche Bahn around €2.5 billion.

Trying to get up to speed

The trains are urgently needed, said DB passenger transport board member Michael Peterson. “Reliability is not good at Deutsche Bahn at the moment,” and will “remain the case for a certain period of time”. 

READ ALSO: ‘A disaster’: How did train travel in Germany get so bad?

The reason for this, he said, is that Deutsche Bahn is working at full speed to modernise its rail system, which has led to several delays, rerouted services and in some cases cancellations.

In addition to the ICE 3neo, a total of almost 140 somewhat slower ICE 4s are set to join the fleet. 

According to Peterson, more than 450 ICE trains are set to join the network by the end of the decade – about 100 more than at present. 

Vocabulary

maximum speed – (die) Höchstgeschwindigkeit

wheelchair user – (der) Rohlstuhlfahrer

equipped – ausgestattet

reliability – (die) Verlässlichkeit

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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