The German airline Lufthansa canceled around 830 flights on Friday because of pilot’s strike that is ongoing for the third day, after similar number of cancellations on Wednesday and Thursday, with long-haul journeys facing distribution as the problem tightens.
Pilots at Lufthansa say they will extend strike over pay that has grounded tens of thousands of passengers and cancelled hundreds of flights.
The ongoing industrial action over a long-running salary dispute with management will be extended until Saturday and will affect all long-haul flights that are set to leave from Germany, the pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit said on Twitter on Thursday.
By the end of Friday, an estimated total of 315,000 passengers will have been affected, cancelling over 2,600 flights since the pilot’s union went on strike on Wednesday.
The pilots’ union said all long-haul flights leaving Germany on Saturday will be affected until midnight.
Short and medium-haul flights suffered the worst disruption on Friday.
The airline is notifying passengers of cancellations by text or email.
The pilot’s strike is their 14th since early 2014. The union demands an average annual pay raise of 3.7 % for 5,400 pilots in Germany over a five-year period from 2012. Lufthansa has offered 2.5% rise over six years to 2019.
Lufthansa has urged the pilot’s union to enter mediation, but it has demanded a better offer from its management first.
The airline already made deals with the main unions representing ground staff and cabin crew in Germany but not yet reaching an agreement with the pilots.
Carsten Spohr, chief executive of Lufthansa, said that the airline can’t meet the pilot’s demands as the future of the airline would be threatened.
Also, Lufthansa’s executive management board member Harry Hohmeister said it was not possible to agree on a bigger wage rise, “The starting point is that we already pay our pilots far better than our competitors,” Hohmeister commented.
The airline has been fighting continuous walkouts by both cabin crew and pilots over the past two years.
In July, it reached an end to the dispute with cabin crew through a deal on pay and working conditions, including a no-strike agreement and job guarantees until 2021.
Despite Lufthansa’s record profit in 2015, it claims it has no choice but to reduce costs to compete with its rivals such as Ryanair on short-haul routes in Europe and Emirates on long-haul routes.
Lufthansa estimates that the cost of the daily strike is around 10 million euros a day.
Other airlines of Lufthansa’s group – Germanwings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Airlines – are not affected by the strike.
Moreover, the airline could suffer a longer-term hit if the strike forced customers to abandon Lufthansa and find an alternative in rival airlines. Hohmeister said on Thursday the walkout was hitting mid-term bookings.
Lufthansa shares declined 0.8 percent to 12.51 euros in Frankfurt on Friday with 14 percent losses so far this year.
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