Lufthansa pilots call full-scale strike over pay dispute

Lufthansa pilots will go on strike on Wednesday in a long-running pay dispute, their pilot union said on Monday, raising the prospects of hundreds of flight cancellations.

The German Airline Pilot Association Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) has announced industrial action at Lufthansa on Wednesday, 23rd of November 2016 from 00:01 – 23:59 Central European Time. All short haul and long haul passenger flights departing from German airports during this time will be affected.

The airline said in a statement:

“This call for strike is not the right way. Several times, Lufthansa offered the VC a mediation to solve the collective labour agreement conflict with the help of a third person. This was always rejected by the VC. Instead, the VC is now calling for strike action, which will mostly affect customers and colleagues.

“The VC is ignoring the option of a mediation and is thereby not taking care of its responsibility as a collective bargaining partner”.

The Airline Pilot Association Vereinigung Cockpit spokesperson said:

“After more than five and a half years without pay raise, VC is demanding an average salary increase of 3.66 per cent annually – a demand which is below many salary increases demanded by other unions in Germany for the same period. For several years now, Lufthansa has prospered and after record earnings last year, the financial result for 2016 will be excellent again. The executive and supervisory boards seem to see it the same way, as is apparent in their salary increases of 30 per cent and more.

“Despite numerous requests by VC, Lufthansa has not presented an acceptable offer for a pay deal but instead significantly reduced offers made previously. Any increase in salaries was to be compensated in other areas. This rather untypical behavior concerning negotiations for a pay deal can only be interpreted as an attempt to create a favorable position for an arbitration, which Lufthansa indeed put on the table just recently. Under such preconditions, VC does not see any basis for an arbitration”.

Lufthansa announced that a total of 2,124 of approximately 3,000 daily flights of the Lufthansa Group will take place. 51 of the 876 cancelled flights are intercontinental flights; approximately 100.000 passengers are affected overall.

The group airlines Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Airlines are not affected by the strike. Flights to and from Germany that are operated by group airlines are also not included in the call to strike. Flight operations at Zurich, Vienna and Brussels hubs will proceed as scheduled.

Austrian Airlines and Swiss are currently reviewing the possibility of increasing their flight capacity to Germany. Among other things, at least one connection with a Boeing 777 is planned between Vienna and Frankfurt.

Lufthansa plans to operate individual routes tomorrow in spite of the strikes. Among other destinations, flights are planned from Frankfurt to Chicago, Delhi, Haneda, Houston, Miami and Washington. A total of three intercontinental flights are scheduled to depart from Munich tomorrow, to San Francisco, Newark and Charlotte.

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