Will Lufthansa Pilot Strikes Stop after Eurowings Wage Deal?
Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, finally appears to have taken a step in the right direction towards settling a long-running and highly damaging dispute with its employees after agreeing a five-year wage deal with its 300 Eurowings pilots.
Adding to this, the company also confirmed similar deals with pilots from Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa CityLine.
They will receive a 2.5 percent pay rise this year and at least two percent per year thereafter, depending on inflation.
However, this only accounts for around half of the group’s pilot force and a number of staff from other areas of the business are also unhappy with pay and conditions – to date these disputes are ongoing.
The bigger picture is ultimately one which is seeing Lufthansa attempting to cut costs in a bid to take on the likes of budget airlines Ryanair and easyjet, as well as Gulf carriers like Emirates and Etihad.
This has led to clashes with pilots over their early retirement schemes, and Lufthansa passenger, cargo and Germanwings pilots are still threatening to walkout as this crucial issue is yet to be agreed upon. “Lufthansa is always prepared to cooperate on a viable solution for all sides,” the airline said in its statement.
The Vereinigung Cockpit union helped pilots to stage 10 separate strikes last year, costing the European carrier €200 million in lost operating profits.
Lufthansa will hope to settle these ongoing disputes quickly, and the Eurowings deal is a promising one especially given the direction it is taking towards a greater proportion of its business coming from the budget-airline end of the scale. Running costs of Eurowings compared to the Lufthansa branded operation are 40 percent less.
Ongoing disruption will continue to harm what is Europe’s busiest passenger airline group, and €200 million and counting in lost revenues is starting to make the company’s economising look rather more expensive than it anticipated.
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