Update: Lufthansa Pilots Call Off Strike

Update: Lufthansa Pilots Call Off Strike

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Update: Vereinigung Cockpit has announced that the strike has been called off for now, so there will be no strike on Wednesday and Thursday. It doesn’t sound like a full contract has been agreed upon yet, so it’s possible we still see a strike in the future. Below you can find the original post from earlier today.

It has been a chaotic summer of travel, largely due to staff shortages. That has been made worse by ongoing labor disputes. Lufthansa pilots went on strike for one day last week, and plan on going back on strike for two days this week.

Lufthansa pilots strike on Wednesday & Thursday

Vereinigung Cockpit, the union representing Lufthansa pilots, has announced that pilots (in both the passenger and cargo division) will be going on strike from 12:01AM on Wednesday, September 7, 2022, until 11:59PM on Thursday, September 8, 2022. This follows pilots going on strike all day on Friday, September 2, 2022. This means that over the course of seven days, Lufthansa pilots will have been on strike for three full days.

The union has been in negotiations with management for weeks over a new contract. At the end of July 2022, the union held a ballot among members, and 97.6% of members supported the demands for a new contract.

Negotiations have continued since then, and a couple of weeks ago management and the union sat down for discussions, though they weren’t able to reach an agreement. The union prepared for industrial action.

Here’s how Matthias Baier, spokesperson for the Vereinigung Cockpit, described the situation last week:

“Despite intensive talks between our collective bargaining committee and the employer, no conclusion could be reached about a promising continuation of the negotiations.”

“We’re too far apart at the moment. In addition to compensating for the loss in real wages, what we now need above all is a future-proof solution for the remuneration structure in all professional groups.”

Meanwhile here’s how Marcel Gröls, chairman of collective bargaining at Vereinigung Cockpit, describes the upcoming strike:

“We would have wished for it differently, but unfortunately the forces of inertia at Lufthansa are considerable. It is now important that the parties find each other quickly and with the necessary seriousness at the negotiating table.”

Lufthansa is in the process of updating its flight schedule to reflect the strike, so if you’re scheduled to fly with the airline in the coming days, you’ll want to keep an eye on this. Odds are that all flights will be scrapped on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Lufthansa pilots are going on strike for two days

What is Lufthansa’s pilots union looking for?

We’ve seen some massive pay increases for pilots at airlines in the United States in recent months, especially at regional airlines. So, what are Lufthansa pilots looking for? It depends who you ask. Obviously we’re not privy to contact negotiations, so all I can do is share what both sides are claiming.

On the surface, the demands of Lufthansa pilots seem pretty modest. Vereinigung Cockpit claims to be asking for a 5.5% pay raise this year, plus automatic pay increases in the future in line with inflation. Furthermore, the union is looking for pilots at other Lufthansa Group airlines, including Eurowings, to get the same pay as mainline pilots.

Eurowings and Eurowings Discover are Lufthansa’s low cost carriers, and one way these airlines save money is by not paying staff as well. Pilots are now looking for a uniform compensation structure across airlines, which would eliminate some of the cost advantage of the low cost carrier, and would also decrease how much flying is taken “away” from mainline pilots.

Lufthansa management claims it “cannot understand VC’s call for a strike,” and claims to have “made a very good and socially balanced offer.” According to management:

  • Pilots have been offered a deal with an 18-month term, which would see pilots getting a total of 900 Euro more in basic pay per month in two stages, which would particularly benefit entry-level salaries
  • An entry-level first officer would receive 18%+ additional basic pay, while a senior captain would receive 5% additional basic pay
  • Alternatively, the union has been offered the option of allocating all or part of this elsewhere, including to structural changes, such as an adjustment to the pay scale
  • Management has also offered to guarantee a certain fleet size for Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo, seemingly as an alternative to raising pay at low cost subsidiaries

Management claims that the union’s demands would increase payroll costs by more than 40%:

In contrast, VC is not only demanding a 5.5 percent wage increase by the end of the year as a first step, but also additional compensation above inflation as of January 2023. According to current estimates, this would increase the payroll cost for cockpit personnel at Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo by a good 16 percent over the two-year period proposed by VC.

In addition, VC is demanding, among other things, a new pay scale with a higher base salary as well as more money, for example, for sick days, vacation or training. In addition to the 16 percent, this would increase cockpit payroll costs by a further 25 percentage points based on data from previous years. Even without taking the financial consequences of the Covid crisis into account, this is not acceptable.

In total, the demands of VC would increase cockpit payroll costs from 2.2 billion euros by probably more than 40 percent – or approximately 900 million euros – over the next two years.

We’re seeing intense labor negotiations across most work groups at airlines and at airports. Aviation has been struggling with staffing issues, and on top of that many work groups didn’t have any negotiating power during the early stages of the pandemic, given how much money the industry was losing. Now that travel demand is back and workers are in short supply, they finally have some power at the bargaining table.

The union is looking for Eurowings pay increases as well

Bottom line

Lufthansa pilots will be going on strike again this Wednesday and Thursday, as management and the union are unable to agree to a new contract. This follows a one day strike last week, meaning that pilots will have been on strike for three of seven days.

In fairness, back in the day Lufthansa pilot strikes happened like clockwork, so it seems overdue at this point. It’s just a further sign of the world slowly healing. 😉 Obviously this is a major inconvenience for anyone traveling in the coming days, and it’s also possible that this will have further impacts in the future, beyond this week.

Any OMAAT readers flying Lufthansa in the coming days?

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  1. Steveo Guest

    I’ve already once been the victim of one of their strikes and it took over a year to get the required comp. Enough is enough, don’t care whose fault these are, I, swearing off LH, too much hassle.

    1. Jerry Wheen New Member

      I hated doing it, but finally reverted to using one of those providers that takes the claim, charges nothing if there's no payout and takes 25% of any payout.

      Why? Lufthansa canceled for "weather reasons" when only two flights from all of MUC were affected (and the next flight I got rebooked on still was not full, despite all the rebookings) and when I kindly inquired for compensation offered ... nothing. (The case went to...

      I hated doing it, but finally reverted to using one of those providers that takes the claim, charges nothing if there's no payout and takes 25% of any payout.

      Why? Lufthansa canceled for "weather reasons" when only two flights from all of MUC were affected (and the next flight I got rebooked on still was not full, despite all the rebookings) and when I kindly inquired for compensation offered ... nothing. (The case went to court and they ended up paying. Sad, but if that's how it works.)

  2. Mantis Guest

    Weather must not have been nice. Germans only strike when weather is good.

  3. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Quite a turn of events when Paris is the most reliable of the largest hubs in Europe

  4. DCharlie Guest

    I was intending to, but just rescheduled onto Emirates! At this rate, Lufthansa pilots may not have a job in the near future...

  5. Motorcycle Racing Leather Jacket Guest

    Just pay the pilots or let the planes sit unused. And still pay the lease costs. 5.5% is not a lot. I do not mind that type of airfare increase.

  6. Klaus Guest

    Next strike is coming up: Wednesday and Thursday

  7. Levin Guest

    Lufthansa pilots want more than a pay raise. They want to influence the board. I work with a Southeast Asian joint venture partner airline and the pilots are refusing to fly 787, 350 to our hub because they feel that the 2 routes they fly SHOULD be befitting of using A380 AND 748. Really.

  8. Biggie Fats Guest

    Does this affect SWISS as well?

  9. Andy Diamond

    LH pilots are notorious for strikes. It happens every year (except during pandemic). May be its more justified this time, but people in Europe don’t understand why the ones with highest pay go on strike.

    1. Klaus Guest

      Last strike was five years ago. But yes, it seems like there is a strike at least once per year at Lufthansa: Flight attendants, Ground Staff, Pilots, Catering.

      And if they’re not striking, German TSA is on strike so that Lufthansa has to shut down operations anyway.

      Not sure: have the mechanics ever been on strike?

  10. Ankit Guest

    Any idea that whether they will strike again after 2nd September or not ? I have a flight with them on 10th September..

  11. Bernard Wald Guest

    The airlines should pay their pilots a decent wage and stop screwing around. If my wife misses our daughter's wedding, we will be really passed off. Sunday is her flight to Greece by way of Munich and if she gets screwed, I will feel sorry for the pron that tells her that.

    1. Jason Guest

      Pilots, especially at Lufthansa, are paid hundreds of thousands of Euros a year. They're paid a very decent wage. They just want more.

  12. Nikola Scepanovic Guest

    Flying next week BEG-FRA-ORD as it was the only option to redeem lifemiles in business class for that date and flight out of BEG is in afternoon, which is super convinient. Now will probably try to change to Austrian… but hate the 6-7AM flights out of BEG.

    1. Klaus Guest

      Why?
      The strike is tomorrow and not next week

    2. Klaus Guest

      Ooops. New strike on Wednesday and Thursday. Does that affect you?

    3. Nikola Scepanovic Guest

      Actually it does. Since i was supposed to fly out thursday.

  13. Frederik Guest

    The biggest problem since Air Berlin went under is that the largest economy and most populated country in Europe has a total monopoly airline. Not only with the strikes but continual use of face masks and very dated business product, you would have to be exceptional to want to choose to fly Lufthansa as a connecting passenger right now out of choice. And that is why this monopoly is such a problem, no credible domestic...

    The biggest problem since Air Berlin went under is that the largest economy and most populated country in Europe has a total monopoly airline. Not only with the strikes but continual use of face masks and very dated business product, you would have to be exceptional to want to choose to fly Lufthansa as a connecting passenger right now out of choice. And that is why this monopoly is such a problem, no credible domestic competition long haul from Germany means this can continue.

    1. Julia Guest

      The face mask situation would be the same regardless of whether there was a monopoly or not.

    2. Klaus Guest

      Your comment makes no sense. Lufthansa has not a monopoly with connection flights?

    3. Hank Tarn Guest

      Luft has no domestic competition, a bit like German politics being dominated by Anglophobic, pro Russian closet communists.

    4. Klaus Guest

      He is talking about connection flights. Why would i connect domestically?

      So yes, when it comes to traveling within Germany there is only Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn and Autobahn. So no competition :)

      (Mmmh… I just got rebooked tomorrow for MUC-DUS-HAM as the direct flight is canceled).

  14. Felix Wallas Guest

    Maybe book another airline. Why fly LH?

    1. Roastbeef Guest

      Make the swatch to Swiss Air.

  15. Clayton Guest

    Well this will be interesting. I've got a flight in LH J MUN-LHR end of September which I had BA book me onto under "right of alternative carrier" rules when BA cancelled my flights. Wonder who I turn to 1st if I get caught up in any industrial action.
    It's an LH flight but BA ticketed and I can already sense the buck passing as I type

    1. Klaus Guest

      Lufthansa is flying to Venezuela? :)

  16. Willis Guest

    When you see the ridiculous salary's they are paying management You can blame anyone for asking for their fair share .
    Especially when you see how management has " managed" themselves into the worst aviation staffing situation in 50 yrs .
    No doubt that once the situation normalises a bit management will "congratulate themselves" with some nice big bonuses from taxpayer support money .

    1. Klaus Guest

      Hi Willis,
      which taxpayer support? Lufthansa received a loan from the government and paid it back including interests.

    2. Mantis Guest

      This is a ridiculous statement. European exec compensation is highly regulated, artificially constrained far lower than the free market would allow, such as in the US. Meanwhile, powerful unions in Europe artificially increase worker wages far above what the free market would set. That's still not enough economic intervention for you? It's not like these pilots earning $300k a year are poor, lowly victims of evil capitalists. Nope, they are just extortionists, and the general...

      This is a ridiculous statement. European exec compensation is highly regulated, artificially constrained far lower than the free market would allow, such as in the US. Meanwhile, powerful unions in Europe artificially increase worker wages far above what the free market would set. That's still not enough economic intervention for you? It's not like these pilots earning $300k a year are poor, lowly victims of evil capitalists. Nope, they are just extortionists, and the general public pays the price.

  17. Vincent Zuberko Guest

    On July 27, 2022, me and my family’s flight with Lufthansa 1412, from FRA to SPU, was cancelled, because Lufthansa employees went on a nationwide strike. If management truly cared to try listening to the concerns of its employees, this would have never happened. I had to book new flights from JFK to Croatia, paying out of my pocket. .while I called Lufthansa numerous times to request a refund and compensation for our cancelled flight...

    On July 27, 2022, me and my family’s flight with Lufthansa 1412, from FRA to SPU, was cancelled, because Lufthansa employees went on a nationwide strike. If management truly cared to try listening to the concerns of its employees, this would have never happened. I had to book new flights from JFK to Croatia, paying out of my pocket. .while I called Lufthansa numerous times to request a refund and compensation for our cancelled flight with them, and received no refund until now. Ben, would you advise who may I contact to receive a refund and compensation? Thank you.

    1. klaus Guest

      Hi Vincent,
      submit a request here: https://soep-online.de/en/ . This is the national body of conciliation and they are neutral.

  18. FabinhoBP Guest

    My wife and I actually have flights with LH in 2 weeks and if the strike goes through our vacation will be screwed.
    Despite that I side with the pilots union here and believe they are within their rights to stop working in order to be heard.

  19. Vijay Guest

    Labor strikes are the quintessence of white privilege.

    1. Rotuma Gold

      White privilege? You’re obviously a racist.

    2. Rotuma Gold

      Racists like to pretend there’s such a thing as white privilege.

    3. Julia Guest

      White privilege is real. It just doesn’t apply to this case.

    4. Clayton Guest

      Ahh yes. Coz only the white folk strike. Nobody of any other ethnicity takes part. They're all too busy being repressed to walk out alongside their white co-workers.

      I remember well last time I had a strike ballot paper and emblazoned on the top were the words "This vote is only for white employees. If you aren't white and got this by accident do not vote and get back to work"

      Your statement is ludicrously racist so perhaps a long look in the mirror is in order.

    5. Mantis Guest

      Congrats, you officially jumped the shark with the white privilege claims. It is now a meaningless term.

  20. snic Guest

    5.5% increase sounds reasonable, given recent inflation. Getting LCC subsidiaries' pilots the same pay as LH would probably be expensive though. Are those pilots in the same union?

  21. Lew Guest

    I have a Lufthansa flight next month from DEN to FCO via MUC. I paid twice what I paid for a similar trip 3 years ago. Pilot are not just a convenience for the airlines. They are invaluable. The money is in the corporate coffers. Pay the pilots. Pay them well.

  22. Steve M Guest

    Just pay the pilots or let the planes sit unused. And still pay the lease costs. 5.5% is not a lot.
    I do not mind that type of airfare increase.

  23. Paul Guest

    What is new with never ending strikes with LH! It is like the never ending mask policy. Booking LH is becoming unreliable. You might even dare to scratch one star off from this 4 star airline.
    At least LX and OS can save my iteneraries. LH is the "Problem Kind in der Gruppe".

    1. Chasgoose Guest

      LH isn’t really at fault for Germany’s mask policy. They should totally take the blame if pilots strike because LH is too cheap to meet their reasonable asks, but with virtually every LH flight taking off from or landing in Germany they have to follow German law even if most other countries have eased restrictions.

  24. CK Guest

    Unfortunately for the passenger it's a bad time to strike. For the pilots it is a great time to strike. American pilots have been given a raise in their pay almost across the board. The race to get pilots has made the Airlines in the US very competitive.

  25. Matthew Guest

    just changed my itinary from Lufthansa to Brussels Airlines, just in case

  26. Tim Dunn Diamond

    None of the big 4 US airlines have settled a pilot contract post-covid. UA and its union tried to sell a pilot contract to the rank and file but the results were so bad that the union just extended the voting deadline rather than admit that the contract lost.
    There have not been any significant increases in compensation for US pilots based on mutually agreed contracts.
    The massive compensation increases that have happened...

    None of the big 4 US airlines have settled a pilot contract post-covid. UA and its union tried to sell a pilot contract to the rank and file but the results were so bad that the union just extended the voting deadline rather than admit that the contract lost.
    There have not been any significant increases in compensation for US pilots based on mutually agreed contracts.
    The massive compensation increases that have happened at SOME regional airlines have been unilaterally given by management in order to keep regional jets staffed and largely involve trying to poach fully qualified pilots from other regional carriers and/or keeping regional jet captains from moving onto mainline carriers.

  27. Paul Guest

    I know it does not sound right, but no masks problem anymore...as there are no LH flights flying anywhere.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Andy Diamond

LH pilots are notorious for strikes. It happens every year (except during pandemic). May be its more justified this time, but people in Europe don’t understand why the ones with highest pay go on strike.

2
snic Guest

5.5% increase sounds reasonable, given recent inflation. Getting LCC subsidiaries' pilots the same pay as LH would probably be expensive though. Are those pilots in the same union?

2
Steve M Guest

Just pay the pilots or let the planes sit unused. And still pay the lease costs. 5.5% is not a lot. I do not mind that type of airfare increase.

2
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