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Global Economy

Strike largely paralyzes air traffic

The all-day strike by the pilots has almost brought all Lufthansa flight operations to a standstill. Lufthansa canceled 800 flights at its hubs – 130,000 passengers are affected.

The strike began as planned in the morning, a spokesman for the Vereinigung Cockpit union said. According to the board decision, the walkout is limited to 24 hours. In Frankfurt am Main and Munich, among others, the display boards showed many canceled Lufthansa flights both to destinations in Germany and abroad. It was comparatively quiet in the terminals at the Frankfurt hub, as the operator Fraport reported. Most passengers had noticed the flight cancellations in good time. At the Lufthansa service counters, however, there were long queues of long-haul passengers hoping to be transported onward.

According to the Cockpit Association, only the departures of the Lufthansa core company and Lufthansa Cargo from German airports are on strike. The subsidiaries Eurowings, Lufthansa Cityline and Eurowings Discover are not affected by the call and are scheduled to fly. The same applies to foreign Lufthansa subsidiaries such as Swiss, Austrian or Brussels. Lufthansa flights from non-German starting points also take place, provided that aircraft and crews are already abroad.

Lufthansa is hoping for a speedy return to normal operations

The walkout should end on Saturday night, but there may still be individual flight cancellations or delays at the weekend. The entire focus is on being able to offer a largely normal flight schedule again after the strike on Saturday, a spokesman for the airline in Frankfurt assured. It is the last holiday weekend in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.

ARD aviation expert Michael Immel reported on tagesschau24 from Frankfurt Airport in the morning about long queues at the transfer counters. "Lufthansa is currently doing everything it can to bring machines to the places where they will be in demand tomorrow." However, it is foreseeable that there will still be individual flights tomorrow that will not take place.

Union demands better offer

The union Vereinigung Cockpit called for the walkout. She wants to enforce her wage demands in the ongoing wage dispute. The VC demands 5.5 percent more wages by the end of the year and from January 2023 a further compensation above inflation. According to Lufthansa, this means a wage increase of a good 16 percent over a proposed period of two years. In addition, the VC demands a new salary table with higher basic salaries and more money for sick days, holidays or training. In total, these demands would increase personnel costs by around 900 million euros, according to Lufthansa.

Cockpit: "Now it's only possible with a certain amount of pressure"

In an interview with tagesschau24, cockpit chairman Marcel Gröls regretted the timing of the strike at the end of the summer holidays in some federal states. On the other hand, he emphasized that an attempt had been made to reach an agreement with Lufthansa in several rounds. One is now at a point where it is only possible "with a certain pressure", says Gröls. Pilots were sometimes threatened with dismissal during the peak phase of the coronavirus pandemic – this had an impact on the mood in the company.

According to Gröls, it now depends on Lufthansa when both parties will rejoin negotiations. Cockpit expects a significantly improved offer from the company.

Lufthansa fails with its application to stop the strike

Meanwhile, Lufthansa failed before the Munich Labor Court with an application for a temporary cessation of the strike. According to the court on Friday, the airline argued that the demand for an increase in collective wages by means of automatic inflation compensation was an illegal strike goal. The court did not agree, and the strike was not prohibited.

However, the 38th chamber also emphasized that the demand from the Cockpit Association was not unproblematic. "However, Deutsche Lufthansa AG should have expressed its legal concerns during the negotiations so far so that discussions could have taken place on this point." The decision is not yet final, an appeal to the Higher Labor Court in Munich is possible.

Lufthansa lacks "any understanding" for the strike call

Before the strike began, Lufthansa had said that there was "a complete lack of understanding" for the call for a strike. The group criticized the "massive effects" because the strike "takes place in several federal states during the main return journey at the end of the school holidays".

It was only in July that the Verdi union almost paralyzed the flight operations of the largest German airline for a whole day with a warning strike by ground staff.

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