Lufthansa is seeking temporary injunctions in an effort to stop the costly and lengthy strike affecting thousands of flights and hundreds of thousands of passengers as the industrial dispute with the cabin crew union entered its fourth day and promises more havoc before it ends, which likely won’t be earlier than Friday. After four days of walkouts that have resulted in more than 2,700 flights cancellations, Europe’s biggest airline announced that it had filed the legal actions in Germany’s labor courts and both sides said on Tuesday that they are open to mediation in what’s becoming the longest strike in its history.
Lufthansa announced that it has cancelled 930 flights scheduled for Wednesday which will affect 100,000 travelers. On Tuesday, the strike hit 136 flights and 27,300 passengers, a day before it had grounded 929 flights affecting 113,000 passengers. The company said Tuesday that it had offered the Independent Flight Attendants Organization (UFO) a new proposal with improved bonuses and retirement provisions “in order that our customers are not penalized by the effects of this strike.” But UFO quickly rejected the latest offer, arguing it had failed to address the critical issue of retirement, which has become the most intractable point through the long negotiations. The union also said it hasn’t weakened its resolve to maintain the walkouts both on short- and long-haul flights to and from Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Munich airports, Lufthansa’s three main hubs, from 3 a.m. GMT on Wednesday through 11 p.m. GMT on Friday.
This is the first time that UFO, representing 19,000 flight attendants, has participated in an industrial action, of which there have been more than a dozen over the past year, most of them headed by the pilots union, the Vereinigung Cockpit VC. In an unrelated development, the pilots union has announced that it has filed a legal challenge to an earlier court ruling that forced it to suspend its most recent strike in September. The ongoing disputes over pay and early retirement date back to 2013, when the company started an ambitious cost-cutting plan to help it compete against low-cost carriers. Despite the ongoing strikes and negotiations, the company announced last week that it was raising its forecast for the year thanks to higher third quarter profits due to low oil prices and healthy tickets sales. Nevertheless, the company’s shares were down 1.6%. So far, the ongoing labor strife already has cost Lufthansa more than €130 million this year – while the current action is racking up €10 million in losses per day.