Germany’s biggest airline Lufthansa has been forced to cancel nearly a thousand flights on Monday because of a strike by cabin crew.
Some 113,000 passengers were grounded by the stoppage which affected Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf airports, the airline said. A total of 929 out of a total of 3,000 scheduled international and domestic flights were cancelled. Lufthansa said that 70 percent of its normal services would operate.
It’s thought the latest strike over early retirement benefits and pensions could last a week.
“I’m in a bad mood. I will never book with Lufthansa. That’s what I said to the Lufthansa crew here in Frankfurt this morning. I told them the last service I’ll accept from Lufthansa was a bottle of apple juice,” said one male passenger at Frankfurt.
“I booked a flight to San Francisco and, as you can see on the board, they’re all cancelled. I really have no sympathy, and especially with transatlantic flights, there is no alternative. What should I do, swim?” asked another traveller.
Lufthansa has apologised to passengers, replying individually to travellers’ tweets.
The airline says its cost-cutting plans are necessary given intense competition from low-cost carriers, arguing the early retirement provisions are too expensive.
The main flight attendants’ union UFO, which insists the arrangements remain unchanged, is impressed by the support for the strike among staff.
“A lot more colleagues are taking part than there are union members. 95 percent of all flights affected by the strike have been cancelled. Lufthansa hasn’t even managed to ensure its emergency flight schedule. We are impressed and it shows how angry people are with the airline,” said the head of the UFO union, Nicoley Baublies.
After taking a break from strike action on Sunday, the series of rolling stoppages entered its third day on Monday and is expected to cause more disruption throughout the week. More action had been planned for Tuesday, the airline said.
Not affected are Lufthansa’s subsidiary airlines: Germanwings, Eurowings, Lufthansa CityLine, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Airlines.
The union said industrial action was “unavoidable” after management failed to deliver an improved offer.
The airline said in a statement on Sunday that it was ready to resume talks. However the union accused management of failing to get in touch since negotiations broke down last Thursday.
Lufthansa management were meeting on Monday and were expected to issue a statement later in the day.
The dispute is separate from another long-running battle between Lufthansa pilots and management over plans to change pilots’ early retirement arrangements.