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Published on : Thursday, November 24, 2016
Fliers were hit by a second day of mayhem as a walk-out by Lufthansa pilots led to the cancellation of almost 2,000 flights. Pilots representing the Vereinigung Cockpit union began the three-day strike – their 14th since early 2014 –Wednesday, prompting the grounding of around 1,800 flights.
Lufthansa said it would scrap a further 830 short- and medium-haul flights on Friday, just over a quarter of its schedule, hitting more than 100,000 travellers. Most long-haul flights will be unaffected.
Over the three days the strike action will disrupt the travel plans of more than 315,000 passengers. A number of flights to and from Dublin were among those cancelled.
The walk-out began at midnight on Wednesday, and is due to run until Friday, ratcheting up pressure on management in a long-running pay dispute and threatening further disruptions for travellers.
The action has cost the German airline about €20 million over two days, and weighed on its mid-term bookings, a board member said on Thursday.
Pilot strikes in 2014 cost Lufthansa €222 million, roughly €21 million per day, according to the IW Cologne Institute for Economic Research. In 2015, walk-outs by pilots and cabin crew cost it €231 million, around €30 million per day.
Lufthansa, led by CEO Carsten Spohr, insists that despite a record profit in 2015, it has no choice but to cut costs to compete with leaner rivals such as Ryanair on short-haul and Emirates on long-haul flights.
It has already agreed deals with the main unions representing ground staff and cabin crew in Germany, leaving an agreement with its pilots outstanding.
The union, fearing a race to the bottom in terms of pay and conditions, wants an average annual pay increase of 3.7 per cent for 5,400 pilots over a five-year period from 2012. Lufthansa has, however, offered 2.5 per cent spread over six years to 2019.
The airline has urged the union to enter mediation, but the union insists it wants to see a better offer first.