Lufthansa pilots begin strike

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Logo of Lufthansa.

The pilots' union of German airline Lufthansa have begun, and then suspended, a four-day strike over pay and job security. Operations at subsidiary airlines Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings were also affected by the strike, but operations have returned to normal.

The strike began at midnight on Monday (18:00 Sunday EST) after negotiations between the airline and union, Vereinigung Cockpit, over the weekend failed to resolve the threat. According to the union, the strike was over reduced flying time for the pilots, triggered by Lufthansa's recent acquisition of several smaller airlines, which the union says is causing traffic to be diverted from union-operated routes. Additionally, the union was seeking a pay increase of 6.4% and guarantees that German labor conditions would apply to Lufthansa crews from abroad, which would reduce the incentive for outsourcing to foreign crews. In a statement issued by Lufthansa, however, the airline said that the union also demanded a greater say in the operation of the airline, which Lufthansa was unwilling to agree to.

On Monday, less than 24 hours after it began, the union suspended the strike, agreeing to resume negotiations. A spokesman for the union said Lufthansa and the union had reached an agreement after a hearing at a Frankfurt court, where Lufthansa had filed an injunction against the union, calling the strike "disproportionate." The strike is to be officially lifted at midnight Monday, although it's unclear when operations will return to normal. While not ruling out future action, the union agreed not to strike again until at least March 9.

The strike has impacted around 10,000 passengers worldwide in the one day it was in place, with about half of Lufthansa's flights being cancelled. The airline attempted to accommodate the disruptions by arranging alternative travel for passengers; train travel for domestic travelers, and booking travel on other airlines for international passengers.


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