World | Europe

November 12, 2015

Lufthansa Cancels One Third of Flights as Strike Moves Into Fifth Day

Germany’s Lufthansa AG canceled about one third of scheduled flights on Wednesday and Thursday, after two German courts rejected its request to stop a strike by its cabin crew that is continuing for a fifth day.

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s 1,864 cancellations in total will affect about 200,000 passengers, Lufthansa said.

The airline had on Tuesday requested a preliminary injunction in the Darmstadt and Düsseldorf labor courts to stop a week-long strike called for by the cabin-crew union UFO that has resulted in thousands of flight cancellations.

The company on Tuesday won a temporary injunction in Düsseldorf to halt the strike at the city’s airport, but the ruling was only valid for Tuesday. On Wednesday, a different judge of same labor court ruled that cabin crew can go on with its strike. Lufthansa couldn’t immediately comment on the ruling.

Earlier, a labor court in Darmstadt, close to Lufthansa’s main hub at Frankfurt, also rejected the airline’s injunction request.

The airline said it was reviewing whether it will take any further legal steps. “We adhere to our stance that UFO’s demands aren’t defined clearly enough,” a Lufthansa spokesman said after the Darmstadt court’s ruling.

On Thursday Lufthansa plans to cancel 933 flights, affecting 107,000 passengers.

The union representing cabin crew first called the strike on Friday last week. Lufthansa hoped to resolve the matter late on Monday with a new offer, which the union quickly rebuffed. The union said that the offer failed to address the critical retirement issue—a sticking point in the protracted dispute.

On Tuesday, the union called for strikes to continue until Friday this week at Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf airports, affecting short, mid- and long-haul flights.

Lufthansa, which lifted its profit guidance after a 41% jump in third-quarter net profit, is also in disputes with other labor unions, as it seeks to become more competitive vis-à-vis budget airlines and expanding Middle East carriers. The airline is also engaged in a row with its pilots over pensions that has yet to be resolved.

In September, Lufthansa successfully halted a strike by its pilots via court order. The court ruled that the strike was unlawful because the pilots union had included Lufthansa’s low-cost unit Eurowings in its dispute over pay and conditions. The court said that questions of strategy weren’t subject to collective bargaining agreements.

Text by Wall Street Journal
 

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