Lufthansa pilots plan strike next week
Frankfurt, February 17, 2010
Pilots at German flagship airline Lufthansa said they would hold a four-day strike starting on Monday in a dispute over pay and job security.
Pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said on Wednesday that 94 percent of its members had approved the action during a month-long ballot and were ready to hold additional walkouts if necessary.
"We expect a massive impact on Lufthansa's flights," Thomas von Sturm, head negotiator for the union, told a news conference.
VC said it was prepared to pick up negotiations with Lufthansa again at any time if the airline met its conditions. Lufthansa responded that it could not accept the pilots' demands and called on the union to resume talks.
"A strike hurts the company, its customers and workers to a high degree," Lufthansa said, adding it would do everything it could to limit the impact on passengers and customers.
Airlines are reeling from the aviation industry's worst year ever, in which demand dropped faster than capacity could be cut. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that 2010 could be tough as well.
Lufthansa workers are not the only unhappy airline employees airing their grievances as carriers around the world seek ways to cut costs.
Cabin crew at British Airways are deciding whether to make a second attempt to go out on strike next month after a court ruled that a planned 12-day stoppage over Christmas was unlawful.
The last major pilot strike at Lufthansa, a three-day walkout in 2001, forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights. It led to a 125 million euro ($170 million) increase in staff costs and caused financial losses of 75 million euros.
LBBW analyst Per-Ola Hellgren said a strike at Lufthansa now could generate an operating loss of 10 million euros or more per day that flights remain grounded.
In addition to a 6.4 percent pay rise for the next 12 months, VC is demanding job security for pilots at Lufthansa, its cargo unit and low-cost unit Germanwings in Germany. - Reuters
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