In the middle of the holiday season, the ver.di trade union paralyzed Lufthansa air traffic with a warning strike by ground staff. After the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights, almost nothing worked at the Frankfurt and Munich hubs, and around 134,000 passengers had to change their travel plans.
According to ver.di, around 5,000 employees took part in the campaign and demonstrated for higher salaries, while numerous passengers in the terminals feared for their onward flight options. In Frankfurt, long queues of mostly foreign passengers formed in front of the sparsely manned rebooking counters in the morning.
Rebookings are difficult
According to a Lufthansa spokeswoman, customers were offered different solutions depending on the flight destination. Extra staff were planned for this task, which remained manageable.
In principle, passengers can be rebooked on later Lufthansa flights or other companies, although the free seats were usually scarce. In individual cases, it could also be that people would have to wait several days before continuing their journey, said a Lufthansa spokesman.
Agreement could come next week
Ver.di and Lufthansa accused each other of being responsible for the situation. The company deliberately refrained from negotiating again after the warning strike was announced, said ver.di strike leader Marvin Reschinsky. He is now hoping for a quick, good result.
"We clearly expect that Lufthansa will step up its pace in the next week so that air traffic can run again," said Reschinsky. A high degree is also a sign of relief for existing staff when Lufthansa offers more attractive jobs for newcomers.
Human Resources Director Michael Niggemann received a shriek from the Lufthansa administration when he said in front of the protesting ver.di trade unionists: "I think this warning strike is completely unreasonable." His expressions of respect for the work of the employees were sometimes answered with derisive laughter, and the mood was heated.
No further strikes for the time being
The ver.di negotiator, Christine Behle, had already declared in the joint morning program of ARD and ZDF that there would be no further strike by the ground staff until the next negotiation date on August 3: "I can rule that out".
ver.di had rejected an initial offer as too low. The union demands 9.5 percent more salary, but at least 350 euros. The parties have given themselves two days for the talks, which alone indicates a certain willingness to conclude.
Irrespective of this, a ballot is under way among the Lufthansa pilots of the Cockpit Association (VC), which would make indefinite strikes possible from August. The ver.di strike started in the morning and is expected to last until Thursday, 6 a.m. Lufthansa fears effects until Friday, the last day of school before the summer holidays in Bavaria. However, there were already no more scheduled flight cancellations on Thursday, emphasized Lufthansa.
Dispatch chaos intensifies
The first strike at Lufthansa after the Corona shock comes against the background of a partially chaotic restart in the industry. Personnel bottlenecks and a strong demand for vacations have already led to considerable handling problems this summer without any strikes. Ver.di mainly blames mismanagement at airports and airlines for this.