Lufthansa buries hatchet with pilots after long battle

Lufthansa buries hatchet with pilots after long battle

FRANKFURT - Agence France-Presse
Lufthansa buries hatchet with pilots after long battle

AP photo

German airline group Lufthansa and pilots’ union Cockpit said on March 15 they had struck a new deal to end a years-long battle over pay, pensions and jobs.

Under the agreement, some 5,400 pilots flying for Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo, and low-cost subsidiary Germanwings will enjoy a salary increase of 11.4 percent over a period from May 2012 to June 2022.
The airlines will also pay flight crew a one-off bonus of 1.8 months’ salary.

In return, pilots have accepted a gradual increase in their retirement age and change in their pension system to one in which their retirement payout is directly determined by the amount they have contributed monthly throughout their careers.

Executives and union representatives had agreed in February on a mediator’s suggestion of an 8.7-percent increase in salary by 2019 and a 5,000-6,000 bonus for each pilot.

But the two sides continued their talks on other questions, including the vexed pension issue.

Cockpit said in a statement on March 15 that the latest deal would guarantee “structurally sustainable improved flight crew costs” -- in exchange for Lufthansa’s agreement to keep at least 325 aircraft flying until mid-2022 using pilots covered by the bargain.

The comprehensive deal was “a great opportunity to bring a peaceful end to the years-long battle,” union board member Joerg Handwerg said.

Repeated pilot walkouts in 2014 and 2015 cost Lufthansa 351 million euros, the firm says, with a further 100-million-euro tab for a week-long walkout last November that seriously disrupted traffic.

“The path to this result exacted a heavy toll from everyone involved -- but, in the interests of Lufthansa, our employees, customers, and shareholders, it was worth it,” said Lufthansa personnel chief Bettina Volkens in a statement.