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Two Lufthansa planes at Frankfurt airport
The strike would be the latest industrial action in an ongoing pay disputeImage: Daniel Kubirski/picture alliance

Lufthansa cancels flights amid pilot strike threat

September 1, 2022

The pilots' union is demanding a pay rise for thousands of workers, but Lufthansa said the union walked away from a "very good" offer. The planned strike will affect passenger and cargo flights.


Pilots at German airline Lufthansa will strike on Thursday amid an ongoing wage dispute that could prolong the summer of travel chaos. Lufthansa announced it will cancel "almost all" flights on Friday due to the strike.

According to a statement from Germany's largest airline on Thursday, 800 Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo flights on September 2 will be affected, with the strike "provisionally impacting 130,000 passengers." 

Lufthansa said while it was working to normalize the situation, "isolated cancellations or delays" on Saturday or Sunday were also possible. 

The pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) says it is demanding a 5.5% pay rise this year for its more than 5,000 pilots, as well as automatic inflation adjustments for 2023, but said discussions had failed.

"We have not received a sufficient offer today either," said spokesperson Matthias Baier. "This is sobering and a missed opportunity."

Lufthansa argues that VC understates the extent of its inflation adjustments.

Lufthansa says union being unreasonable

Earlier on Friday, Lufthansa published details of the offer it said the trade union had walked away from. According to Lufthansa, it had offered an 18-month two-stage increase of €900 (around $920) per month for all pilots. It said this equated to an 18% monthly raise for a base-level pilot starting their career, or around 5% for an experienced captain. 

"We have no understanding for the VC's call to strike whatsoever. The employer side made a very good and socially balanced offer — despite the continuing burdens of the coronavirus crisis and the uncertain prospects for the global economy," Michael Niggemann, board member for human resources, was quoted as saying. "This escalation comes at a cost for thousands of customers." 

Like most major airlines, Lufthansa came close to insolvency during the height of travel restrictions early in the COVID pandemic, requiring a large package of government loans to keep it afloat

The airline also said it had offered guarantees on a minimum future fleet size as downsizing remains a possibility. It did not say what minimum size it had pledged; VC had earlier called for a guarantee of a minimum of 325 planes across Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo. 

Ongoing travel woes

The strike announcement comes after pilots at Lufthansa's subsidiary Eurowings also voted in favor of strikes earlier on Thursday. They, however, first want to continue wage negotiations with their employer.

Airlines including Lufthansa have been forced to cancel thousands of flights this summer due to strikes and staff shortages. 

They have caused long queues at major airports, frustrating travelers.

Earlier this month, Lufthansa's management reached a pay deal with ground staff, averting further walkouts after a strike had forced it to cancel more than 1,000 flights.

msh, zc/wd (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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