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TUIfly flights face further disruptions before return to normal on Sunday

TUIfly is to resume normal flight operations on Sunday after further disruptions on Saturday. Airline staff have been concerned about their jobs and working conditions following news of a partial merger with Air Berlin.

After conciliation talks at the Lower Saxony Ministry of Economics on Friday, the German leisure airline owned by travel and tourism company TUI Group, said normal flight operations would start again on Sunday.  "It is anticipated that thre will be 115 flights," a press release from the airline said.

Disruptions to flights were set to continue on Saturday, the airline said, for "operational reasons." Some 118 flights were expected to be affected. Some Air Berlin flights have also been cancelled.

The problems over the last week have been due to numerous staff calling in sick at short notice causing flights to be cancelled. Airline personnel have been concerned about the status of their jobs and working conditions after TUIfly and Air Berlin negotiated a partial merger.

The company is believed to have reached an agreement with employees setting out a three-year deal on terms and conditions. A final announcement on a restructuring is to be made in November. 

Detlef Ahting, who participated in the conciliation talks as a representative of the Ver.di trade union, told the "Spiegel" magazine that the solution had a "good foundation." The talks over the coming weeks would determine if they would effect a solution Ahting said.

Restructuring plans

In a statement on Wednesday, Tuifly tried to calm staff concerns about its restructuring plans by saying that “existing labor agreements will remain intact” and that the company did not plan to move its base from Hanover. 

Unions were concerned that plans to bring the airline under the control of Etihad, the flag carrier and the second-largest airline of the United Arab Emirates, would lead to job losses. They also demanded more precise information. 

TUIfly was formed in 2007 by the merger of Hapag Lloyd Flug and Hapag Lloyd Express as a branch of TUI Travel. Talks leading to a strategic partnership with Air Berlin began in 2009, including a share exchange.

Air Berlin also started to lease 17 aircraft from TUIfly and take over all of TUIfly's city connections. 

Plans to merge TUIfly into a new company with the leisure operations of Air Berlin announced in September had met with heavy criticism from the unions, most especially because the new company was to be based in Austria. 

jm/bw (dpa, Spiegel)

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