The union representing Lufthansa crew members has agreed to end its strike pending negotiations with airline management aimed at resolving a wage and labor dispute. The strike had caused massive flight cancellations.
Lufthansa crews have agreed to return to work on Saturday, after the Independent Flight Attendants' Association (UFO) and the airline's management agreed to seek a negotiated settlement to their dispute by the end of next week.
The breakthrough came when Lufthansa management agreed to no longer employ temporary staff on its Berlin flights, giving in to one of the major demands of UFO. Lufthansa chairman Christoph Franz said the airline was abstaining "unilaterally from using external cabin crews in Berlin for the foreseeable future without preconditions."
UFO has also been negotiating for a pay increase for 13 months, following three years of stagnant wages. The trade union wants a five-percent increase backdated to January; Lufthansa has so far offered 3.5 percent. The airline's intention to establish a domestic budget airline is also a bone of contention.
Friday flight chaos
Friday's nationwide strike caused chaos across Germany. Lufthansa had used e-mail and text messages to inform around 55,000 of its passengers that their flights had been cancelled, according to a Lufthansa spokesman.
The airline operates around 1,800 flights on an average day, at least half of which it cancelled even before the strike began.
"However, further cancellations can be expected," another spokesman for the airline told the dpa news agency, adding that it was still too early to put a precise figure on the number of cancellations.
Many passengers with domestic destinations were expected to take the train instead and Deutsche Bahn, which operates Germany's passenger rail service, said it had laid on more trains to cope with the anticipated spike in demand. Traffic was also expected to be heavier on some of Germany's autobahns on Friday.
Some passengers should be able to take flights on other airlines such as Lufthansa subsidiaries German Wings, Austrian, or Swiss airlines, in which cases “we will cover the costs,” a Lufthansa spokesman stressed.
The first of three strikes was held solely at Frankfurt's main airport, while the second was widened to Berlin Tegel and Munich as well - Friday's strike is nationwide.
pfd,slk/dr (dpa, DAPD, AFP)