A 4.4 percent increase in remuneration for Lufthansa pilots is the latest attempt by the German carrier to end a pilot strike that is costing the company an estimated €15 million per day. The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union representing the pilots said it is considering the deal, but its spokesman Ingolf Schumacher demanded to know “why has it taken six days of strikes for them to make an offer, without conditions, as we had asked,” according to Deutsche Welle (DW).
The VC union has called on its members to strike for six days now, starting on Nov. 23 and continue through today. Lufthansa has had to cancel some 4,450 flights due to the strike, so far. Lufthansa Cargo’s freighter operations have not been affected, but bellyhold cargo on long-haul passenger flight could be delayed and cause supply chain disruptions.
The carrier’s cargo division issued a statement: “We deeply regret any inconvenience the pilots’ union strike may cause. Lufthansa Cargo staff worldwide will do their utmost to keep the potential inconvenience to customers at a minimum. Affected cargo pieces will automatically be rebooked on flights of the updated flight schedule and on road feeder services.”
The strike has major implications for Germany’s economy, and the national discourse, as is often the case in such events, has turned ugly. In an opinion piece, DW‘s Manuela Kasper-Claridge called the pilots “highly-paid,” writing that “these high-flying luxury pilots appear to be doing everything they can to ruin the airline they work for.
“Sorry, gentlemen,” Kasper-Claridge continued, “One cannot have much sympathy for your demands. Especially not in view of the chutzpah with which you’ve been trying to push them through.”
A pilot also cited by DW countered, saying, “think of the pilots’ salary not so much as income but as rainy day insurance. I know too many pilots with crippling debts due to high training costs that, quite frankly, scare me.”
As the pilots hold out, German businesses and other Lufthansa employees are joining the carrier’s management in their criticism of the strike. Siemens, a major corporate customer of Lufthansa, said the strikes were inflicting lasting damage on the country’s economy and image, warning Lufthansa that it needed to be more reliable. “As a major customer, we have to consider how we can deal with this on a long-term basis,” Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser told German daily Bild.