Frankfurt - Deutsche Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, cancelled
hundreds of flights in Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich on Tuesday as cabin crew
launched a second round of strikes in a row over pay and conditions.
The strike action follows a walkout on Friday that left 26
000 passengers stranded and caused millions of euros in lost revenues.
“It is difficult for the company to cushion the impact. We
cannot just get new flight attendants, and the personnel buffer is limited,”
Lufthansa spokesperson Klaus Walther said.
While Germany has a track record of mostly harmonious labour
relations compared with other major European countries such as France, its
airlines and airports have been hit by a string of disputes in recent years as
companies battle to cut costs to cope with the rise of low-cost carriers,
soaring fuel prices, fast-growing Middle East airlines and an air travel tax.
A strike by Lufthansa pilots in 2010 caused more than 2 800
flight cancellations, and earlier this year a strike by airfield staff at
Frankfurt airport also hit Lufthansa’s business.
Trade union UFO, which represents around two thirds of
Lufthansa’s 18 000 cabin crew, called for eight hours of strikes in Frankfurt
and Berlin and 11 hours in Munich on Tuesday.
Talks between Lufthansa and UFO broke down a week ago,
having failed to result in an agreement for 13 months, and have so far not
The union wants a 5% pay increase and guarantees against
outsourcing and the use of temporary workers.
Lufthansa, which is slashing costs in a bid to boost its
earnings by €1.5bn, says it will not improve its offer to raise pay by 3.5% in
exchange for longer hours.
UFO head Nicoley Baublies threatened the next step could be
full-day walkouts by Lufthansa cabin crew across Germany “if this arrogance
Analysts estimate the strikes could costs about €5m - €10m a
day, but Equinet analyst Jochen Rothenbacher warned that sum could jump to as
much as €50m if full-day strikes across Germany shut down all flights.
Lufthansa’s Walther said the airline was mulling legal steps
against the union.
At its main hub in Frankfurt alone, Lufthansa expected to
cancel about 190 flights on Tuesday, with about half of short- and medium-haul
The airline, which normally operates about 1 800 flights per
day around the world, also cancelled half of long-haul trips due to depart
Munich and expects to cancel about a quarter of short-and medium-haul flights.
By mid-morning, Lufthansa had sent 18 000 text messages to
customers’ mobile phones to inform them of flight cancellations and delays, and
it was supplying stranded passengers at airports with drinks and snacks.
At 10:00 GMT Lufthansa shares, which have fallen 17% over
the past year, were down 1.1% at €9.7.
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