Update On Lufthansa’s Strike

On Tuesday I wrote about how Lufthansa’s flight attendant union, UFO, announced that they’d go on strike November 6-13 if a contractual agreement couldn’t be reached.

Apparently management and the union were so far off in what they were willing to settle for that they ended up following through with the strike, which starts today and could last up to a week.

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Here’s Lufthansa’s most recent statement on the strike:

The Independent Flight Attendant’s Organization (UFO) has announced strike action for all Lufthansa flights from/ to Frankfurt and Dusseldorf on Friday, 6.11.2015 between 14.00 and 23.00 and Saturday, 7.11.2015 between 6.00 and 23.00 for all flights from/to Dusseldorf and for all flights operated with A319, A320, A321 and B737 from/to Frankfurt.

All intercontinental flights on 7.11.2015 will operate as scheduled.

Flights to and from Munich are not affected by the strike.

Flights operated by Lufthansa CityLine, Germanwings, Eurowings, Air Dolomiti, Austrian Airlines, SWISS and Brussels Airlines are not affected by potential strike actions and will therefore run as planned.

Lufthansa will do its utmost to keep the effects of a strike to a minimum and to inform passengers as soon as possible. For that reason, Lufthansa requests all passengers early on to stay up-to-date by checking the flight status on LH.com.

A total of almost ten per cent of all flights of the Lufthansa Group have to be cancelled due to the union’s strike today. Out of a total of 3,000 planned connections, 290 flights are cancelled, including 15 intercontinental flights to and from Frankfurt and Dusseldorf.

Lufthansa regrets any inconveniences caused by the strike.

To recap:

  • Friday (today), all Lufthansa 737 and Airbus A319/320/321 flights to/from Frankfurt/Dusseldorf will be canceled between 2PM and 11PM
  • Saturday (tomorrow), all Lufthansa 737 and Airbus A319/320/321 flights to/from Frankfurt/Dusseldorf will be canceled between 6AM and 11PM

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Lufthansa is getting creative and diverting some longhaul flights to Munich so that passengers with onwards connections won’t be stranded. For example, today’s A380 flight from Shanghai to Frankfurt diverted to Munich to drop off passengers, before continuing to Frankfurt

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The union doesn’t plan on striking in Munich or on Sunday, because they don’t want leisure travelers to get stranded. Via NDTV:

However, Lufthansa’s Munich hub would not be affected at all this weekend, given that there were still school holidays in the southern regional states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, it explained.

In addition, “no industrial action is planned at all on Sunday since most people travelling that day will be doing so in a private capacity,” UFO said.

Well that’s… kind of them.

Nothing has been scheduled for early next week yet, though Lufthansa continues to allow free rebookings for flights through November 13, 2015.

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Bottom line

Ultimately I respect the right of collective bargaining, and I’m not well versed enough on the situation to take a union vs. management side. At the same time, tens of thousands of people will be stranded, the airline will lose tens of millions of dollars, all the flight attendants’ colleagues (pilots, airport staff, reservations agents, etc.) will be significantly inconvenienced, and I still don’t get how they’ll actually be further along in their negotiations than when they began?

There has gotta be a better way (not that I know what it is… but there has to be).

Comments

  1. …and this is why I detest unions. Paying pax, not airline management or shareholders, will be the ones hurt worst by this. Selfish, selfish move by the union.

    It’s interesting how you can tell the difference between service in union vs. non-union air crews. Fly any of the Asian or Middle East airlines and life in the air is spectacular. Fly any of the US airlines and dental appointments are often more pleasant.

    At the end of the day it’s the pax paying the bills and paying the salaries for these jokers. I hope pax do what I do and vote with their $ and fly airlines which treat their staff well and which airlines have staff which treat their pax well. You’re the paying customer. Demand better.

  2. @AlexS

    I find LH’s (unionized) service to be world class, so I’m not sure what you’re going on about.

    Service on US carriers as a whole is sub-par, but to blame it solely on unions is to miss the bigger picture.

  3. @snic: About 85% of my domestic travel is on JetBlue. When their schedules/destinations aren’t favourable to where I’m heading, Delta. I know Delta is unionized, but I’ve never had a pissy FA on B6 or DL. If anything on both B6 & DL I’ve had the crew truly go the extra mile numerous times. From a B6 captain buying pizzas for everyone on a delayed flight to DL waiting at my arrival gate with a golf cart to shuttle me to my next flight which was about to close the door.

    My office’s travel policy is to get people off US metal as quickly as possible, as in doing so life usually improves by a couple order of magnitude.

    @TravelinWilly: I know it’s (somewhat) more complex than just unions, but I’ve encountered the union mentality in many fields, not just aviation and it drives me nuts. Collective bargaining usually means pay rates are fixed per position, with a seniority modifier. Doing a better or worse job is unlikely to make a difference, so many will do the minimum (or less than) to get by.

    Upper management which often thinks shareholders are god and self-loading-freight and employees are nuisances aren’t helping things either.

  4. AlexS, you know that JAL, CX, and SIA are also unionized, right, just to name a few of the Asian airlines that are often praised for their level of service? And that Japan’s entire corporate culture (to oversimplify things a bit and paint broad strokes) has been criticized for basically rigidly sticking to seniority hierarchies for promotion and pay?

  5. I unfortunately got caught up with the Strike… Took LH439 from DFW to FRA this past Wed and then transited to LH904 to LHR – all in Business. Was scheduled to then go onward from LHR to INC via FRA on Nov 7… On Nov 6 I got the text that my LHR flight was indeed cancelled. Coincidentally – I was near LHR so popped in to talk to the check in crew. They quickly re-booked me onto the ASIANA flight – again in Business – which I am about to board… Overall I am going to arrive into Seoul about 4hours later than originally planned – but not the end of the world. Issue however is that the business class cabin on the 777-200 on ASIANA will not be anything like the LH Cabin on the 747-8…

  6. @AlexS: In my experience, most upper management thinks that they’re the gods, and screw the shareholders, employees, customers, and anyone else who stands in the way of their bonuses and perks. (They don’t answer to the shareholders, they answer to their board of directors — who are primarily the executives of other companies.)

    Big unions are certainly subject to the same type of favoritism and corruption as big companies, but at least they can serve as some counterbalance to employer abuses. Without them, you end up people like Walmart employees working as many hours as their employers will allow and still needing welfare assistance to scrape by.

  7. Why strike this time around when my wife suppose to come to Nigeria from Canada, why all this delay?

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