Lufthansa: 1,000 Flights Cancelled Amid Pilot Strike

Lufthansa has announced the cancellation of 1,000 flights amid an extensive pilot strike. On Tuesday, the strike forced the cancellation of an estimated 90 international flights. However, the German pilots union will extend the strike on Wednesday to include 1,000 short- and medium-haul flights.

As discussed on the Lufthansa website, the airline “regrets any inconvenience caused and will do its best to keep possible disruptions to a minimum.” However, union representatives determined the strike is necessary to secure the pilots’ retirement benefits.

As reported by NBC News, the pilots are in danger of losing a “transition payment,” which is part of the airline’s early retirement package. Union Vereinigung Cockpit is also opposed to a planned “restructuring of the airline.”

Union representatives said the airline is attempting raise the early retirement age for all pilots and reduce the salaries of pilots working for lower cost subsidiaries — including Germanwings.

The Independent reports the strike will affect an estimated 140,000 passengers. However, a representative confirmed the strike is expected to end on Thursday.

Although the Lufthansa strike forced the cancellation of 1,000 flights, the airline confirmed many pilots are actually still working. The airline also confirmed the strike will not affect Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Germanwings, and SWISS flights.

Passengers affected by the cancelled flights are encouraged to rebook via the Lufthansa website — which is offering the service free of charge. Passengers traveling within Germany also have the option to exchange their flight ticket for a Deutsche Bahn train pass.

Between 2014 and 2015, Lufthansa employees went on strike a total of 10 times under the advisement of Union Vereiningung Cockpit. The disruptions cost the airline an estimated $260 million. Two more strikes, which occurred between January and August 2015, have cost the company an additional $100 million.

Wednesday’s strike includes pilots who fly Airbus SE A320, Boeing 737, and Embraer SA jets. As reported by Gulf News, the strike was “aimed at causing maximum disruption.”

Although the latest strike is expected to end on Thursday, experts suggest there is a “relative high likelihood” future strikes are in the works.

DZ Bank spokesman Dirk Schlamp said the damage is not merely financial. Lufthansa’s reputation as a reliable airline is also taking a hit.

The airline has not offered further comment about the strike, or any future strikes. However, Lufthansa insists they are trying to reduce the inconvenience to passengers. According to the company website, fewer than half of all scheduled flights were cancelled amid the strike.

[Image via Wikimedia]