October 1, 2014
Lufthansa go on strike again two days after Air France-KLM call theirs off
The power struggle between unions and airlines seems to be never-ending and the public have to be falling out of love with two of the industry’s greats. Two days after Air France call of their longest strike in the company’s history, Lufthansa are hit by a fifth strike in less than four weeks, with 25 long-haul flights having to be cancelled and 9,000 passengers affected. Lufthansa’s 5,400 pilots are represented by the small but powerful Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union who has called the strike. The union has yet to find any common ground with the airline over alterations to pilot’s early retirement packages. Currently pilots can take early retirement at 55 on 60% of their salary, which can run to €250,000/annum. The Company wants to raise this early retirement age to a minimum of 60 and have pilots contributing to their pensions – the biggest bones of contention. Fears also exist that like Air France-KLM with Transavia, Lufthansa’s main pilots will not be considered for positions in a low-cost arm of the airline. With a staff level of 120,000 anything agreed will have widespread repercussions. And what is the underlying source of the problem? Price sensitivity. In a bid to be competitive all the major airlines are driving their prices downwards, and when that happens, someone has to pay. As the passengers won’t, then it would appear to have to be the employees, otherwise these two giants of the airline industry, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, may just go the way of other historic giants, the dinosaurs.