Lufthansa promises return to normal flights today

Lufthansa airplanes are parked on the tarmac during a strike by the cabin crew union at Frankfurt airport.

Lufthansa airplanes are parked on the tarmac during a strike by the cabin crew union at Frankfurt airport.

Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa, says it’s had to cancel another 941 flights affecting 110,000 passengers on the final day of a weeklong strike by flight attendants.

But the carrier has promised a return to normal flight schedules on Saturday.

The airline said that with the cancelations Friday, it’s had to cancel a total of 4,700 flights over the seven days, affecting more than half a million passengers.

Despite the massive disruptions, the airline seems no closer to an agreement with the cabin crew union UFO, which has suggested more walkouts could be coming.

The union wants, among other demands, to secure transition payments for its 19,000 members if they retire early.

The contract dispute comes as Lufthansa is trying to cut costs amid rising competition from Gulf state airlines.

The airline withdrew a request for an injunction against the walkouts at the last minute on Thursday after a German court indicated earlier it was unlikely to reverse a lower court ruling that flight attendants could continue their strike.

The cabin crew union (UFO) earlier signalled a willingness to compromise, saying it will make a new proposal on Friday to end the dispute with Lufthansa.

Union chief Nicoley Baublies declined to provide details of the proposal.

Lufthansa said 111,000 passengers would be hit by the cancelations on Friday which will bring the total number of flight disruptions to 4,700 — with more than half a million customers affected by the strike.

The walkouts, which the airline said is costing it at least 10 million euros ($10.7 million) a day, even forced Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr to fly with rival Air Berlin from Berlin to Munich this week.

“All planned long-haul flights will be able to take off on Saturday,” the company said on Thursday.

Cabin crew staff started a series of strikes at the airline’s core Lufthansa brand last Friday to fight for an improved pension offer for employees.

Lufthansa, which says it needs to cut costs to compete with budget rivals and leaner Gulf carriers, has said it is open to mediation, provided the union calls off the strikes.

The union plans to end the week of strikes by calling on all Lufthansa Group employees to join a demonstration at Frankfurt airport on Friday from midday, Baublies told Reuters.

“If there is no movement from management then maybe we will have to say that there will be more strikes,” Baublies said.

Lufthansa has condemned the strikes as counterproductive.

“With this strike, they’re only making it harder for us all,” Bettina Volkens, head of personnel, said in an interview with daily newspaper Bild.

“The only ones that are happy about the situation are our rivals.”


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