Tens of thousands of jobs could be cut at German airline Lufthansa. Executives said Thursday personnel costs had to be reduced drastically to ensure a better restart following the coronavirus crisis.
Lufthansa said Thursday it would need to slash 22,000 full-time positions as it predicted a muted recovery in demand for travel following the coronavirus pandemic. In total, 26,000 positions are at risk, as some of those jobs are part-time.
"The recovery in the air transport sector will be slow in the foreseeable future," the airline said, adding that Lufthansa Group would operate about 100 fewer planes after the crisis, "mathematically leading to a total of 22,000 fewer full-time jobs in the group, half of them in Germany."
The 22,000 full-time positions in question would mean a reduction of the overall workforce by 16%, with Lufthansa now employing some 135,000 people worldwide. The airline emphasized, though, that it would look at how to use schemes for short-time work and other crisis measures to avoid outright redundancies.
Lufthansa's clipped wings
The peak of the pandemic saw Lufthansa ground some 700 of its 763 aircraft while 87,000 employees found themselves on government-subsidized short-time work schemes. The company, which also owns Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines, is set to be dropped from Germany's blue-chip index DAX on June 22.
The carrier's supervisory board last week approved a €9 billion ($10.3 billion) bailout deal with the government, which has yet to be given the green light by investors at a June 25 shareholder meeting.
If implemented, the rescue package will see the German government take a 20% stake in the group, with an option on a further 5% plus one share to block hostile takeover attempts.
State aid and layoffs?
Germany's opposition Left party on Thursday criticized Lufthansa's announcement about potential layoffs. Party chief Bernd Riexinger questioned on Twitter "how the state could give €9 billion in bailout money to a company worth only €4 billion [after Lufthansa's stock price plummeted], and then for the state not have a say in personnel-related matters."
"If Lufthansa should really slash 22,000 jobs, the government will need to be blamed," Riexinger concluded.
Lufthansa pilots, currently in negotiations with the management, have meanwhile renewed their offer to accept a wage reduction of up to 45% to help save jobs in the group. According to the pilots' Cockpit Association (VC), the concessions amount to more than €350 million and "represent a significant contribution to the company's viability".
UFO, one of the unions representing cabin crew members, said its members were prepared to accept some cuts, but expected guarantees from the airline that jobs would not be lost. "We are willing to help Lufthansa, as long as there are no cuts that include dismissals," UFO executive director Nicoley Baublies told DW.
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hg, tko/ng (AP, AFP, dpa)