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The 2016 Lufthansa Meltdown: Pilots Strike Again

Much of Lufthansa's fleet will be grounded over the next couple of days due to industrial action of one of the airline's pilot unions.

Much of Lufthansa’s fleet will be grounded over the next couple of days due to industrial action of one of the airline’s pilot unions.

European airlines and industrial action. They go along just like peanut butter and jelly. If it isn’t Air France, it’s Alitalia. If isn’t the Italians, then the British through BA take the baton and run with it.

Well, it’s Germany’s Lufthansa’s (LH) turn at the table.

Lufthansa’s pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) has announced two days of consecutive strikes, beginning today (November 23) and ending tomorrow night (November 24). This is VC’s 14th strike action since April 2014. Astounding.

Through an official press release over 800 flights have been cancelled today out of the scheduled 3,000 that were supposed to operate. The cancellations are wide ranging and include US bound flights, surely to affect American Thanksgiving traffic on this holiday weekend. The airline went further to say that they expect around 100,000 passengers to be affected throughout their expansive route network and worse yet, haven’t given a timeline as to when flights will be fully normalized and exactly how existing passengers will be accommodated.

Basically the crutch of the (long running) dispute is that the 5,400 Lufthansa pilots who are members of the VC have been demanding a 3.7% pay increase per year for the next five years. LH, financially squeezed by local low cost competitors in Europe and the big Gulf carriers such as Emirates and Qatar Airways with lower cost bases internationally, has tried to resist and seek compromise. The airline offered a 2.5% yearly increase which VC rejected outright, indicating that the offer was tantamount to a pay freeze and when the case was brought to court recently it only served to extend the original one day strike to two.

The VC pilot union were unable to come to a contract agreement with Lufthansa, resulting in a strike and mass flight cancellations.

The VC pilot union were unable to come to a contract agreement with Lufthansa, resulting in a strike and mass flight cancellations.

So there’s the internal rumblings and discontent. It’s their own house to fix and they’d better do it quickly so as not to inconvenience more passengers. It’s odd because in my own personal opinion, this sort of industrial action that only serves to harm the passenger will surely drive more passengers to their fierce competitors at home and abroad.

Biting the hand that feeds you perhaps?

 

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