Lufthansa long suffering customers have seen their travel plans disrupted as the German company is hit by the 13 pilot strike in 18 months, grounding half of all long distance flights on Tuesday, with further 24 hour disruption planned for Wednesday.
Around 20,000 passengers have been affected by Tuesday’s strike running until just before midnight local time and forcing Lufthansa to cancel a total of 84 flights, almost half of the airline regularly scheduled long-haul flights, according to German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
In a statement on its website, Lufthansa said that a relatively large number of cockpit personnel said they would still fly, enabling it to operate more than half of its intercontinental passenger services despite the strike. “All in all, 84 long-haul services from or to Frankfurt, Munich or Düsseldorf will have to be cancelled, while 90 such flights can be operated,” the statement read.
Lufthansa’s customers are starting to get used to these travel disruptions, as the third largest company already suffered 10 strikes in 2014 with €232 million in estimated losses in a long running dispute between the pilot Union Vereiningung Cockpit and the German airline management. This year’s costs have been calculated at over €100 million already, according to Reuters.
Lufthansa, which is trying to cut costs to better compete with budget rivals in Europe such as Ryanair, has been able to keep some long-haul flights and its cargo flights running on Tuesday thanks to volunteer pilots.
The main striking issues have been over raising the age at which Lufthansa pilots can take early retirement and creating new pay grades for workers in the group’s low-cost branches such as Germanwings.
Lufthansa made some concessions over the weekend in an effort to persuade the pilots to return to the negotiating table, but they were dismissed by the union as lacking in substance.
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