Lufthansa's 10th Strike since April: Why do its Pilots keep Walking Out?

- Leadership - Dec 04, 2014

Europe’s largest airline is once again having to cancel flights after its pilots went on strike again over the issue of pensions and other retirement benefits.

The action is set to continue until 11.59pm German-time having begun at 3am, with Lufthansa calling the move by the Vereinigung Cockpit union, representing some 5,400 pilots, as “completely incomprehensible”.

It is the tenth time the carrier has suffered strike action since April.

The major issue revolves around an early retirement scheme which the company is determined to phase out in a bid to make huge cost savings.

READ MORE: What Next for Lufthansa after a Year of Strikes?

At present pilots received 60 percent of their pay to the age of 65 after retiring 10 years earlier, and strike action against the proposals to change this scheme have already cost Lufthansa €160 million in operating profits.

Lufthansa has said it would not accept a demand that new pilots, as well as those already with the company, should be able to retire at 55.

It is facing a serious battle to remain competitive against budget carriers such as Ryanair and Easyjet and Gulf operators including Emirates, Etihad and Qatar on money-spinning long-haul routes. The German company said it has offered compromises with the pilots in a bid to settle the matter before Christmas.

Lufthansa is planning to expand its budget airline Eurowings to help tackle some of the strengthening competition, chief executive Carsten Spohr ready to accept that high-level decisions may lead to further strike action.

This latest strike has forced 50 percent of long haul flights to be cancelled while six of 15 cargo flights have been struck off – those flights that are running will be reliant on volunteer pilots.

The video below is message from the CEO published at the end of September. 

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