Lufthansa Pilots Are Going Back On Strike This Week!

Filed Under: Lufthansa, Unions

This past week has been a rough one for Lufthansa, as their pilots went on strike for four days (on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), causing hundreds of thousands of passengers to have their travels disrupted.

The pilots have been unwilling to sit down with management to discuss terms further until management comes back with a better starting offer, though neither side is budging. The strike wasn’t extended to Sunday, so I was a bit confused by what was going on. Surely the pilots aren’t simply going to give up without having accomplished anything.

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I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the strike has now been extended. Per the Lufthansa travel information page, Lufthansa pilots will go back on strike this Tuesday and Wednesday, November 29-30. This strike will impact short-haul flights on Tuesday, and both short-haul and longhaul flights on Wednesday (ouch!). In the next day or so Lufthansa should post the planned schedules for these dates.

Unbelievable. Some fault definitely lies with both sides here, though it’s incredible that this is allowed to continue as long as it has. On one hand one side is going to have to budge eventually, while at the same time the longer the strike goes on, the more stubborn both sides will get. I don’t see the pilots simply giving up after having gone on strike for so long, while at the same time I don’t see management suddenly giving in to improved terms after losing tens of millions of Euros due to these strikes.

This is turning into one of the longest Lufthansa pilot strikes we’ve seen in years…

If you’re booked to fly Lufthansa in the next week, I wouldn’t count on your flight necessarily operating.

How do you guys see this pilot strike ending?

  1. Wow! Talk about lucky, my flight back to here to the US was today, and just on the day that my Lufthansa flight was to leave the strike ends, then it starts again almost immediately after I’m back in the US!

  2. Just booked 2 biz class seats from SFO to MUC on TK for next summer. LH is not sufficiently reliable to depend upon, and TK does have a nice product.

  3. Hello all. I just came back from Frankfurt. The flights within Europe looked to be fine. My sister left on the flight at 10:15 to Barcelona and all went well. There was a lot of people and as for the American Airline that I was flying back to Dallas it was a mess with the wait. Priority line had over 20 people waiting to check in and the security check was about an hour long. Very uncomfortable and then to get on American Airlines to find out that they are flying a junk 777-200 with no USB connection and an entertainment system from the 80s. My iphone was actually bigger. What a rip off with AA. Not to hear about “we are upgrading” …
    Tell when you have upgraded and then I will consider flying with AA. At least they were not on strike.

  4. Jason,
    I’m surprised to hear that AA would go through the bother of installing an entertainment system older that the plane itself. I can only imagine that the overhead bins also lacked room for your hystrionic hyperbole; it must have been brutal for you.

  5. @Endre The pilots are paid based on hours flown, so no flights = no pay from Lufthansa. I assume the union will issue some strike pay, but that tends to be pretty minimal. Most unions will try and force back pay for any strike time into any agreement but I can’t see Lufthansa going for that here.

  6. Something tells me LH is in it for the long game. This will be a case of who blinks first. How deep is LH’s pocket? What’s their cash flow like?

    Theoretically if planes don’t fly they save on fuel and other operating costs. If overheads are slim enough and passenger bookings are low resulting in lower cost of arranging alternative travel, it could come down to pilots just giving up.

    I don’t think LH has a good reputation to begin with. So reputational risk and the erosion of reputation is manageable collateral damage.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

  7. Shouldn’t this put Lufthansa out of business? I mean who would book a flight on this airline other than a leisure traveler choosing to because Lufthansa has a significantly lower fare. And Germans pride themselves on being reliable and on time, so this is especially bad for a German carrier.

  8. Maybe the pilots have overplayed their hand if management hasn’t moved from their starting position at this point.

  9. The airline does ‘save’ some money by not operating but they still have all other costs. They would still have to pay the airport fees and insurance and all the corporate overhead (substantial costs including rent/utilities/salaried employees/healthcare/pension/whatever). They may still have to pay contracted prices for food/beverage even though it’s not used; I’d imagine the contract includes a minimum usage they’d be billed regardless of the true minimum usage. I also wonder if they have to pay pay costs for the union workers impacted (maintenance, flight attendants, so on). If they are also paid hourly if they work, but cannot work due to another union striking, who pays them? The union striking can’t afford that. So a ton of money going out the door still but not a lot coming in as most people are probably going elsewhere to be on the safe side, especially business (last minute) travelers.

  10. Vereinigung Cockpit has lost their collective minds. I’m not saying management’s position on the specific issues is right, but to continue strike action because management hasn’t changed their starting offer to be more suitable to the union suggests a lack of understanding about how “negotiations” work. Normally, each side in a negotiation starts with the position that suits their needs perfectly, then they work towards compromise.

  11. Terrible and a disgrace for Germany. German law should be changed so that only one union is allowed to represent all employees of a company, and not 10% of employees taking the entire company hostage and ruining the future of the other 90% of employees along the way.

    Just booked two J flights to Asia in March. Would usually have taken Lufthansa, but it is just too risky. Now it is Air China and Cathay.

  12. Apparently all Germans fly Lufthansa and some only flies Lufthansa. Some Germans refuse to go on holiday to a destination that Lufthansa doesn’t fly to. The pilots are asking a lot. They typically earn 200k plus a year and has very good retirement package.

  13. Not to worry.
    LH has plenty of customers who will march in lockstep like mindless robots and continue to book travel on the airline.

  14. Ben,

    Just flew LH 402 F and they announced at the end of the flight: “We know it’s currently challenging to fly with Lufthansa but we appreciate your continued loyalty.” Interesting announcement to make.

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