Last updated: 07:56 PM ET, Mon September 07 2015

Hundreds of Lufthansa Flights Expected to Be Canceled as Pilots Go On Strike

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | September 07, 2015

Hundreds of Lufthansa Flights Expected to Be Canceled as Pilots Go On Strike

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

An ongoing conflict between a German pilots’ union and Lufthansa related to pay, benefits and cost-cutting has resulted in another strike, expected to cancel hundreds of flights, Reuters reported.

This walkout is the 13th in 18 months and will span two days. Tuesday’s stoppage will impact long-haul passenger and cargo flights, while Wednesday’s targets short-haul Lufthansa and Germanwings flights, according to Reuters.

Lufthansa told the news agency that volunteer pilots would allow 90 out of around 170 long-haul flights to take off Tuesday, plus all seven cargo flights. But the carrier expects hundreds of the 1,350 short-haul flights to be canceled on Wednesday.

Reuters said Lufthansa is in cost-cutting mode “as it battles to maintain its market share against budget rivals such as Ryanair.”

In this atmosphere of penny-pinching, relations between Lufthansa and the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union, representing around 5,000 Lufthansa and Germanwings pilots, broke down last week.

Concessions have been presented by the union, Reuters said, including an increase of the average retirement age to 60 and trying to bring costs down as to be roughly equal to those of easyJet.

Originally planned for Tuesday alone, when announcing the expansion of the strike to Wednesday, union spokesman Markus Wahl said Lufthansa management “had not shown any willingness to reach an agreement,” Reuters said.

Lufthansa has stated they are open to dialogue, but according to Reuters, VC’s precondition for talks has the carrier halting the employment of staff on non-German contracts, part of expanding the budget Eurowings division — which possesses an Austrian operating license.

In an interview with Reuters Friday, Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr pointed out that over 1,000 pilots, some from within the striking group, had applied for jobs at Eurowings. He also indicated the sticking point preventing talks is a common cost-cutting measure. "To create an airline's operating certificate in another country is something the other low-cost carriers do and we copied that model for our low-cost operation," he said to Reuters.

Regarding Lufthansa’s adjusted earnings for the year, Spohr told Reuters the company would “comfortably” exceed the targeted 1.5 billion euros before interest and tax. The news agency did say this target did not factor in the impact of the strikes, which have already cost the carrier about 100 million euros this year.

Travelers using Lufthansa in the next few days, be sure to check your flight status as this strike unfolds.

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