Lufthansa Flight Attendants Strike Briefly in Frankfurt on Aug. 31
By James Ruggia
August 31, 2012 10:40 AM
A wildcat strike by Lufthansa flight attendants at its Frankfurt Airport hub on Friday, Aug. 31, ended in the early afternoon German time, but flight operations were still disrupted, according to the airline. The cabin crew strike at Frankfurt airport (FRA) was called by the Independent Flight Attendants Organization (UFO). Lufthansa said it currently does not have any knowledge of further strike action, but the union may take another job action again at short notice. For updates, follow @Lufthansa_USA.
The flight attendants union on Aug. 30 called for an eight-hour strike starting early Friday after negotiations with Lufthansa ended inconclusively last week. It expected 80 percent of cabin crew to take part in the walk out. The initial work stoppage ended late Friday afternoon in Germany, after 200 flights were canceled. At press time many aircraft were stuck on the ground at Lufthansa’s Frankfurt hub. Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, could be in for a protracted struggle.
Flight attendants are demanding a 5 percent increase in pay, while Lufthansa has countered with a 3.5 percent offer. The impact of protracted series of strikes has global implications because Lufthansa, one of Europe’s major airlines, carries thousands of passengers from North America to Europe and beyond to Asia and Eastern Europe. The airline flies from 17 U.S. gateways. At press time roughly 9,000 passengers had been affected due to the 200 flights that were canceled for Friday. Analysts see the potential for future sporadic strikes in the short term that could grow into broader work stoppages.
For its part, Lufthansa expressed regret that the labor dispute was being waged at the expense of its customers. The fact that UFO announced its strike action only at short notice creates additional problems for passengers because it will further limit their ability to make reliable travel plans, the airline said.
Lufthansa said it was forced to cancel a majority of flights to and from Frankfurt. The airline said it cancelled mostly short- and medium-haul flights. Nevertheless, a small number of long-haul flights also were cancelled. Lufthansa will take any effort to reinstate stable flight operations as fast as possible. Until then it said further disruptions, especially delays must be anticipated.
Passengers can obtain information on the status of their flights as early as the afternoon of the day before their travel and should check currently cancelled flights under Cancelled flights. Affected passengers are requested to check the status of their booking prior to departure at My bookings. They may already find an alternate flight and can check-in as early as 23 hours before departure.
Passengers travelling within Germany whose flights have been cancelled due to the strike may alternatively travel by train with Deutsche Bahn. They can exchange their e-ticket for a travel voucher under My bookings or at a Lufthansa check-in kiosk. When exchanging online, they can either print the travel voucher or send it via email or SMS to their mobile phone.
Lufthansa said if passengers do not have the time to exchange their flight ticket online or at the check-in kiosk, it recommends they purchase a regular train ticket. In this case it said it asks passengers to understand they will only be refunded the unused portion of their flight ticket. The airline said since the reason for cancellation was force majeure it is unable to provide any compensation beyond the value of the unused flight ticket. At the same time, Lufthansa noted that due to increasing passenger numbers, train operations by Deutsche Bahn can be affected as well.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled and who cannot use the self-service options above can contact the Lufthansa Service Center at 0800 8 50 60 70 or via one of the local phone numbers. Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to rebook or refund their ticket free of charge. All passengers with Lufthansa tickets issued before Aug. 31 for Lufthansa-operated flights departing before Monday, Sept. 3 at 11:59 p.m. (German local time) are entitled to one rebooking onto alternate flights by Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines or Swiss free of charge. New travel must occur before Nov. 30, 2012. Origin and destination cannot be changed.