LUFTHANSA PILOTS STRIKE AGAIN Long haul flights affected

Posted on 09/08/2015

Lufthansa cancelled just under half of its long-haul flights planned for Tuesday after pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) called an all-day strike in a long-running dispute over pay, retirement benefits and cost cuts.
The union said the strike, the 13th walkout in 18 months, would affect long-haul passenger flights and cargo flights out of Germany from 6am GMT to 9.59pm GMT on Tuesday.

However, Lufthansa said it would operate 90 out of about 170 planned long-haul flights for Tuesday and all seven cargo flights thanks to pilots volunteering to work.

Lufthansa is trying to cut costs as it battles to maintain market share against budget rivals such as Ryanair.

Relations between management and the VC union, which represents around 5,000 Lufthansa and Germanwings pilots, broke down again last week. The union says it has offered concessions, including increasing the average retirement age to 60 and looking at ways to bring costs down to a level comparable with easyJet.

"With our offer, we made it clear that the pilots are not against the necessary adjustments," VC spokesman Markus Wahl said.

Announcing the Wednesday strike, Wahl said Lufthansa management had not shown any willingness to reach an agreement. Lufthansa had said earlier on Monday that it had offered talks over the weekend, but VC said the offer provided no basis for talks.

As a precondition for talks, VC wants Lufthansa to halt the process of employing staff on non-German contracts for the expansion of its budget Eurowings division, which has an Austrian operating licence.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said over 1,000 pilots from within the group and outside had applied for jobs at Eurowings.

"To create an airline's operating certificate in another country is something the other low-cost carriers do and we copied that model for our low-cost operation," he said.