Lufthansa pilot strike grounds nearly 900 flights

A pay dispute has left some 215,000 passengers affected, after pilots for Germany's largest airline launched a two-day strike.

Ralph Orlowski/Reuters
Planes stand on the tarmac during a pilots strike of German airline Lufthansa at Frankfurt airport, Germany, Wednesday.

Nearly 900 flights with a German airline were grounded Wednesday because of a two-day pilot strike expected to continue through Thursday.

The airline, Lufthansa, canceled 876 of its planned 3,000 flights for the day when the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots' union called for its members to walk out over a pay dispute. A total of 1,800 flights have been cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday, affecting about 215,000 passengers, CNN Money reports. 

The strike is the fourteenth by Cockpit since April 2014, as Lufthansa grapples with how to compete with Gulf airlines and European budget carriers. Primary rivals of the airline include Ryanair for short-haul flights and Emirates for long-haul flights. 

Company officials, including chief executive officer Carsten Spohr, say the airline has no choice but to reduce costs. The Cockpit union argues that despite the airline posting "very good numbers for years," its pilots have not received pay raises. They are asking for an annual average increase of 3.7 percent after experiencing no pay increases in more than five years. 

Meanwhile, the pilots claim, top company executives in recent years have received pay hikes as high as 30 percent, and board members have experienced even bigger raises.

Lufthansa, whose attempts to block the walkout in courts proved unsuccessful, reacted to the union's decision to extend the strike to Thursday by expressing "complete incomprehension." 

The airline company says it expects the strike to cost between 7 million euros and 9 million euros ($7.4 million to $9.6 million) each day. 

"We want the union to return to the negotiating table. Our door is wide open," said a Lufthansa spokesman on Wednesday. 

The cancellations left many passengers scrambling to find new travel accommodations. Passengers will not be charged a fee to rebook, the airline said.

Pilots are not the only Lufthansa employees that have gone on strike. Last year, the company cancelled 4,700 flights over seven days due to a strike by flight attendants, affecting about 550,000 passengers. 

This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.