The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) organization announced that Lufthansa pilots will go on strike for 24 hours beginning Thursday at midnight. The cause for the walkout was that the airline’s 5,000-member union went on strike after being denied a desired 5.5% wage hike and automatic inflation increases. The pilots are also demanding a new salary and vacation structure, which Lufthansa claims will increase employee expenses by 40%, or around 900 million euros (USD 899) over the next two years.
“Lufthansa has to cancel almost all flights to and from Frankfurt and Munich for Friday, September 2,” the airline said in a statement, adding that it will have a “massive impact on flight operations in the middle of return season at the end of summer holidays in Germany and other European countries.”
By midday in Germany, 600 flights had been canceled, accounting for 66% of the airline’s scheduled flights. Frankfurt and Munich were the most hit, with cancellations reaching 34% and 27%, respectively.
“We have not received a sufficient offer today, either. This is sobering and a missed opportunity,” said Matthias Baier, spokesperson of the union organizing the strike.
Members of the other party have a slightly different outlook. “I don’t think this [strike] is appropriate. It’s the main travel season and it’s at very short notice,” said Andrea Buchloh-Adler at Frankfurt airport. “Pilots are not low-earners. They are certainly not hit as hard by the energy crisis and inflation as many others who do their work every day.”
The German airline has promised a one-time rise of 900 Euros per month in two phases over the course of eighteen months, resulting in an 18% increase in compensation for entry-level employees and a 5% increase in pay for senior-level jobs. According to Michael Niggemann, the Lufthansa executive board member in charge of human resources, the German carrier made a solid, balanced offer during negotiations, and the strike will disrupt thousands of passengers. The strike has been called off after the two parties struck an agreement over the weekend.