A 24-hour strike by Eurowings cabin crew union UFO could be repeated once or twice next week if a deal over pay and working conditions is not reached. It is not yet known when the strike days would be.
A strike by Eurowings and Germanwings employees, which canceled hundreds of flights and stranded tens of thousands of travelers on Thursday, may continue for two more days next week if a deal over pay and working conditions cannot be reached.
Cancellations and delays plagued all of Germany's major airports except for Frankfurt and Munich with 393 of the 551 planned Eurowings flights, primarily in Germany, cancelled. Long-haul flights were not affected. Passengers on affected flights were offered refunds and free rebooking. No strikes were scheduled for Friday.
The German cabin crew union, UFO, called for the strike from midnight Wednesday to midnight Thursday after talks with Eurowings and Germanwings on pay increases and improved working conditions for part-time employees fell apart.
"At the end of the day, both (airlines) have the same targets and the same management," said UFO board member Nicoley Baublies to German broadcaster ZDF. About 150 members of UFO took part in a demonstration in front of the Eurowings building in Cologne.
Germanwings and Eurowings merged in January 2016, but Germanwings still continues to operate under its own flight numbers with the Eurowings banner.
If the talks do not move towards a resolution, the strikes are set to continue for two days next week. "We will strike for two days if management doesn't budge," said UFO representative Daniel Flohr. Flohr did not say which days these might be, but the days would be "announced in time," he said.
Eurowings issued a statement on the strike, raising the possibility of taking those responsible to the labor court. "We will now investigate who was responsible for this strike and take the appropriate legal steps," said a Eurowings spokesman. Eurowings Managing Director of Personnel, Jörg Beissel, said fewer than 10 percent of personnel were involved in the strike.
A negotiation session has been planned between the Verdi trade union and Eurowings for Friday: "The Verdi colleagues are very motivated and are ready to work through the coming week's potential warning strike," said Verdi leader Christine Behle.
Eurowings criticized the trade union, saying they "lost every measure" in the labor dispute. Talks between UFO and Eurowings parent company Lufthansa broke down on Wednesday although the airline offered an average pay increase of seven percent.
UFO said they did not receive this offer.
Lufthansa is facing stiff competition from foreign airlines, primarily those in Gulf countries and other European budget airlines.
kbd/jm (AFP, dpa)