German airline Lufthansa and pilots’ union VC said on Tuesday, September 6 they had reached a deal in a wage dispute, averting a second strike that had been planned for later this week.
The agreement comes after a strike at Lufthansa last week forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, further plaguing a summer of travel chaos.
The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) pilots’ union said it had agreed based on a comprehensive package of monetary and structural issues which would be fleshed out in the next few days. It gave no further details but said it was sufficient for a strike due to begin on Wednesday, September 7 to be called off.
“We are pleased that a result was reached at the negotiating table and that further disruption for customers, employees and companies could be avoided. Today important first steps have been taken towards long-term cooperation,” said Marcel Groels, responsible for the union’s collective bargaining policy.
Passenger plane pilots had been due on strike on Wednesday, September 7 and Thursday, September 8, and cargo pilots from Wednesday through Friday, according to the union, which groups more than 5,000 pilots.
Lufthansa, which had earlier said it would make an improved offer, said the agreement meant flights could take place as planned in the next few days.
“We are pleased we were able to solve constructive talks with the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union,” the national carrier said in a statement, giving no details of the deal.
VC had demanded a retroactive pay rise of 5.5% from July 1 as well as a pay increase of 8.2% in 2023 in response to inflation.
The airline says those measures would increase its staffing costs by about 40%, or around 900 million euros over two years. It has instead offered a one-off increase of 900 euros, amounting to a 5% increase for senior pilots and an 18% increase for those starting the profession.
A pilots’ strike by Lufthansa on September 2 had led to almost 800 flights being cancelled, affecting nearly 1.3 lakh passengers. Delhi Airport had witnessed protests from about 700 passengers – almost all Canada-bound students – who were to fly to Frankfurt and Munich that night.
While they protested inside the terminal, their relatives and friends blocked the entrance at T3. The police had to intervene that night to restore traffic flow at the terminal. With outbound student travel season on in full swing in India, a two-day strike could lead to more such situations over the next 2-3 days.
Lufthansa has been among European carriers facing strike calls in the past few months by various sections of organised employee unions like ground staff, cabin crew and pilots.
European airports have been a mess this entire summer as they were unable to handle the sharp revival in travel due to reasons like employee shortage and then strikes.
(With Inputs from Reuters)