Lufthansa firm as 1,000 flights stay on tarmac

Lufthansa has filed for €60m in damages from the pilots’ union
LUFTHANSA, the German airliner has cancelled around 1,000 flights today after a pilot strike was extended from long-haul flights to medium- and short-haul flights.

Europe’s largest airline operator said that around 140,000 pas­sengers will be affected as some of the medium- and short-haul aircraft fly up to eight times a day.

Yesterday’s strike, the 13th in 18 months, meant the German airline was forced to cancel 84 long-haul flights, just under half the number scheduled, affecting around 20,000 passengers.

A Lufthansa spokesman said: “It is an unfortunate situation. The dispute has been going on for nearly two years without any recognisable progress. It is not possible to enter into meaningful negotiations [while the strike is ongoing] and we have had to limit conversations on Eurowings.”

The company is involved in a long-running dispute with its pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) over pay, benefits and cost cuts.

Lufthansa is cutting costs to fend off competition through its budget airline Eurowings, in a bid to claw back market share from low-cost rivals such as Ryanair.

VC wants Lufthansa to stop employing staff on non-German contracts for the expansion of Eurowings, which has an Austrian operating licence.

The airline also an­nounced it has just filed for €60m (£43.7m)- worth of damages relating to a strike in April 2014, which it says did not accord with strike legislation.

A VC spokesman said the union has not ruled out further strikes next week.

This comes after Unite union accused BA of “holding a gun to senior cabin crew”, over changes to its Gatwick operations. Unite couldn’t comment on whether they were considering industrial action.