Lufthansa, Unions Move Toward Ending Strikes

lufthansaLufthansa Group and three major unions -- UFO, Vereinigung Cockpit and Verdi -- emerged from roundtable negotiations in Frankfurt December 2 aimed at ending a series of strikes that have caused major travel disruptions for the airline, Deutsche Welle reports. The negotiations, which aimed to resolve longstanding issues over cost-cutting measures designed to compete with other low-cost airlines and Gulf carriers, resulted in a pledge by cabin crew union UFO for no more strikes over the next few months. 

According to an analysis in Bloomberg Business, a plan to expand Lufthansa's discount carrier Eurowings was a major sticking point in the negotiations. Unions involved in the negotiations had seen that expansion as threatening Lufthansa's main brands, where staff are better paid. Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr has planned to expand the Eurowings fleet to over 100 planes, while keeping the Lufthansa fleet fixed at 400. 

Air Transport World reports that Lufthansa was able to sign an agreement with Verdi, which is effective through the end of 2017. The agreement included pay raises for about 30,000 staff, as well as a new corporate pension scheme. 

November Strike

The negotiations followed the largest strike in Lufthansa's history in November, which shut down operations for a week and resulted in the cancellation of approximately 4,700 flights, affecting 550,000 passengers. 

Later that month cabin crew union UFO had planned another series of walkouts, but called off those strikes after working out a concept for pensions and retirement benefits that could lead to a future agreement. 

Keep visiting for further updates to this developing story.