48-Hour Pilots Strike Cripples Lufthansa Flights


German airline Lufthansa said it had slashed 800 flights Tuesday as pilots walked out for a 48-hour strike following a four-day stoppage last week in a long-running pay dispute.

Around 82,000 passengers are affected Tuesday by the latest industrial action, the 15th by the carrier’s flight crew since April 2014.

While Tuesday’s walkout affects short-haul flights, Wednesday will see a further 890 flights cancelled including some long-haul services.

Lufthansa failed to obtain an injunction to halt the strike from a Munich court — the second time in a week its attempts to block industrial action by legal means have fallen through after a similar judgement in Frankfurt.

A spokesman told AFP the group had withdrawn an appeal against the Bavarian court’s judgement.

There is little sign of an end to the drawn-out dispute between pilots and managers at Lufthansa, with union Vereinigung Cockpit warning of further strikes if the airline does not soften its position.

“Strikes can continue as long as we don’t have an offer we can negotiate over,” union leader Joerg Handwerg told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.

Pilots complain that they have had no pay rise in five years, while the airline has continued to book healthy profits.

They demand a pay increase of an average of 3.66 percent per year, retroactive for the past five years.

But managers have rejected such a settlement, with their last offer a one-off bonus of just under two months’ salary and a 4.4 percent pay increase spread over two years — a deal refused by Cockpit at the weekend.

The pay deal was “only a part of an overall package” that included cuts to pensions, Handwerg said.

Lufthansa says it pays pilots significantly more than its competitors.

According to managers, a co-pilot earns a starting salary of 6,500 euros ($6,890) gross per month, while a late-career captain can be paid as much as 22,000 euros.


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