Lufthansa Strike Grounds 800 Flights Worldwide
In the midst of a four-day pilot walkout, Europe's biggest airline by sales canceled around 800 flights today, affecting 10,000 passengers worldwide.
German airline Lufthansa has canceled long haul flights to U.S. cities such as Denver and New York. Other destinations, including Dallas, Chicago, and Newark, New Jersey, are still on schedule. The airline is also running many domestic flights across Europe, but has been forced to cut around two thirds of its total flight schedule.
"As a consequence of the strike measures which have been initiated by the "Vereinigung Cockpit" trade union, Lufthansa is making corresponding adjustments to its flight schedule from Monday to Thursday, 22 to 25 February," announced the airline in a press release issued today.
Over 4,000 pilots walked off at midnight local time on Monday, February 22nd. The Lufthansa strike is a result of pilots' demands centering around pay and job security; they are seeking a 6.4 percent pay increase and have expressed concerns in Lufthansa's recent buying spree of small carriers, such as BMI and Austrian Airlines, which threaten to take flights away from union-flown routes. The pilots have been without a contract since March 2009.
"We fly less hours and have less potential for (performance-related bonuses)," pilot and union representative Jorg Handwerg told CNN in a report released yesterday. "We want to have the opportunity to grow, but instead it shrinks."
Lufthansa said on Wednesday they were willing to reach a negotiated settlement with the pilots' union, but their demand to be more involved with business management at the airline "cannot be accepted."
The airline and the pilots' union met over the weekend in a last-minute bid to avoid the Lufthansa strike, but failed to come to an agreement.
Lufthansa officials said at a press conference the strike could cost some $33 million per day.
The airline has listed current flight timetables on its website, www.lufthansa.com. Lufthansa is allowing passengers who purchased tickets prior to February 18th to rebook one time free of charge. Additionally, passengers on domestic flights can purchase a rail ticket for the identical route in the same travel class and claim a refund through the airline, which can also be done on Lufthansa's website.
Lufthansa is attempting to get a court injunction to halt the strike. A decision could come by the end of the day today.