The last few weeks have involved very difficult circumstances for leadership at Lufthansa and their employees. Tumultuous ground staff, flight crew, and pilots have rallied around the rejection of the airline’s plan to decrease pension benefits for new employees and offer less retirement benefits. To recap the many events that have occurred, we have created a quick guide so all readers can be informed of the major talking points of the debate at Lufthansa.
- On average, each day of strikes for Lufthansa has cost the company $11 million. While this may not seem like much for one day, imagine how quickly this can pile up when pilots or flight attendants stop working for a week.
- Over 19,000 flight attendants currently are represented by their union, and therefore were on strike over the past week. This is roughly 16% of all of the company’s staff.
- The current debate with flight attendants revolves around the company’s provided pension plan. In an effort to save costs, Lufthansa has proposed that those who retire early will receive less benefits and would like to have future hires not be included in the pension program.
- The Lufthansa strikes don’t only deal with flight attendants represented by the UFO, but also the Vereinigung Cockpit, which represents the airline’s pilots. The major issues at stake for the pilots involve a pension debate as well as how the airline is paying its employees of its low cost arm, Eurowings.
- Lufthansa’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, has made it very clear that he is in for a long fight and is not going to back down. “In the past, when the unions threatened to strike, we backed off,” said Spohr. “That’s like taking an aspirin; the pain goes away in the short term, but it does not do any healing. We delayed the labor issues for too long.” Only time will tell who will back down in the end of these heated negotiations.
- 290 flights have been cancelled amidst the strikes and about 37,500 passengers have been affected. Most of these flights are within Europe; Lufthansa seems to be trying to keep transatlantic flights running on-time.
- Lufthansa is not the only airline to experience employee strikes recently. Air France has had numerous strikes recently involving both airport staff and crew. These strikes are a fairly common occurrence for European airlines.
- Lufthansa’s next major step in this process is a planned meeting for December 3rd in which airline executives will meet with leaders representing the pilots, cabin crew and ground staff to discuss the pension plan as well as retirement benefits and future job opportunities.