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Why are Lufthansa pilots on strike, grounding 800 flights around the world?

Lufthansa has offered a total of 900 euros ($901.35) more in basic pay per month in two stages over an 18-month term as well as an agreement guaranteeing cockpit staff a minimum fleet size.

Germany Lufthansa StrikeThe airline said on September 1 that it would have to cancel 800 flights on Friday, likely affecting 130,000 passengers, after the pilots’ union announced a one-day strike. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Hundreds of Lufthansa passengers and their relatives protested at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport overnight after the German airline cancelled passenger and cargo flights around the world due to strike action planned by its pilots for Friday (September 2).

The flights have been cancelled from Lufthansa’s two biggest hubs, Frankfurt and Munich. A flight to Munich was scheduled to leave Delhi at 1.10 am and another to Frankfurt at 2.50 am on Friday. Flightradar24 showed a drastic reduction in the number of Lufthansa aircraft in the sky on Friday afternoon.

What is the problem at Lufthansa?

The airline said on September 1 that it would have to cancel 800 flights on Friday, likely affecting 130,000 passengers, after the pilots’ union announced a one-day strike, Reuters reported.

The report said that the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union had said late on August 31 that talks to increase salaries had failed. The union is demanding a 5.5% increase in pay this year, and an automatic inflation compensation thereafter, for its more than 5,000 pilots.

Lufthansa has said that it would continue talking to the pilots, but it cannot afford the raise that they are demanding. “We hope to get back to negotiations as soon as possible,” the Reuters report quoted a Lufthansa spokesperson as saying on Thursday. “However, we cannot bear the cost increases associated with VC’s demands either.”

Michael Niggemann, the Lufthansa executive board member responsible for human resources, said the strike was incomprehensible and defended the “very good and socially balanced” offer that the airline had made to the pilots.

Lufthansa has offered a total of 900 euros ($901.35) more in basic pay per month in two stages over an 18-month term as well as an agreement guaranteeing cockpit staff a minimum fleet size, the Reuters report said.

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Why are the pilots demanding a raise?

This has been Europe’s summer of discontent at the airports. Even as large numbers of people have sought to fly after two years of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, airlines and airports have faced shortages of staff and strikes by employees, and have had to contend with complaints of long queues and lost or delayed bags from passengers.

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The situation has been exacerbated by inflation and the cost of living crisis brought on by the war in Ukraine and, in cases involving the United Kingdom, Brexit.

First published on: 02-09-2022 at 02:50:02 pm
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