MIAMI — Pilots for German flag carrier Lufthansa struck, as planned, on Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights. The unionized pilots are seeking higher pay and better pension terms for members.
The strike is expect to last through Friday, April 4th.
The strike, which was announced late last week by the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union, is expected to affect nearly half of one million passengers and force the cancellation of 3,800 flights across the three day action. The carrier reported cancelling roughly 900 flights on day one.
Lufthansa said “passengers were being informed about the cancellations by text messages and e-mails,” over the past two days, in a statement. The carrier has also been working hard to rebook customers onto other airlines and even trains.
The strike also extends to Lufthansa Cargo and budget carrier Germanwings. It does not, however, extend to Air Dolomiti, Eurowings, and Lufthansa CityLine subsidiaries.
Ninety percent of VC members voted to strike back on March 21. The dates for the planned actions were announced one week later, on March 28. Both sides of the table are blaming the other for the failure to come to an agreement thus far.
Unfortunately, this comes a week after public-sector workers went on strike regarding an unrelated dispute at seven German airports, which required Lufthansa to cancel hundreds of flights. Earlier actions by security staff at major airports caused huge backups and hundreds of people to miss their flights.
Lufthansa has also set about axing thousands of jobs through 2015, part of a wide-reaching program aimed at lowering costs. The move prompted the carrier’s last major strike in April 2013. Nearly 33,000 flight attendants and ground crew walked out for a full day over the $2 billion restructuring plan, forcing cancellation of all but a handful of the carriers 1,700 flights. It was preceded by a smaller, warning strike in March. The hours long strike forced still forced the cancellation of nearly 700 flights.
Similar action was taken in 2012 by cabin crew members, though it was limited to the carrier’s Frankfurt hub. Like previous strikes, the move was related to wage concerns.