Many immigrants who have lawful visas say they cannot now leave the country because they would not be able to return / Lufthansa

Union accuses the German airline of 'incomprehensible' attitude to negotiations

Pilots working for Lufthansa have called another two days of strikes this week in a pay dispute. Domestic and European flights on the German airline will be affected on Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 November, with long-haul operations also hit on Wednesday. 

Last week’s strike led to the grounding of more than 2,000 flights, with an estimated 300,000 passengers grounded. 

On Friday, Lufthansa tabled an increased offer, to increase wages by 2.4 per cent this year and 2 per cent next, together with a one-off payment of 15 per cent of annual salary.

But the pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), says that its members’ salaries are lagging behind while Lufthansa makes healthy profits. It is demanding a 20 per cent rise to cover the years from 2012 to 2017. Jörg Handwerg, a member of the VC board, accused Lufthansa of failing to failing to make a meaningful offer to its members. He called the airline’s attitude “completely incomprehensible”.

Pilots are also alarmed at Lufthansa’s plans to expand its Eurowings subsidiary, as part of a plan to counter low-cost airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and a new joint venture between Etihad and the giant tour operator, Tui. 

Lufthansa said it will “do everything possible to keep the impact as low as possible”. It is offering passengers booked to fly to, from or via Frankfurt, Munich or Dusseldorf on the affected days the opportunity to re-book for travel by the end of March next year. 

Domestic passengers are being urged to travel by train instead; they can exchange flight coupons for rail tickets online.

The German airline is facing intense competition from low-cost rivals in Europe, the big Gulf-based airlines — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways — and the resurgent US carriers.

The latest strike is the is taking place on the quietest days for air travel, at a time of year when there is a significant amount of capacity in aviation. Many passengers will be re-booked on other carriers. But there are fears the Lufthansa pilots may intensify their industrial action in the build-up to the busy Christmas season — a period when the aviation system has very little slack.

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