Lufthansa pilots reject latest pay offer but won't extend strike

BERLIN • Lufthansa's pilots' union has rejected the German airline's latest pay offer, but lifted the immediate threat of extending its strike beyond yesterday.

Lufthansa said earlier that it had made a new offer to try to break the deadlock in a long-running pay dispute with its pilots, who have been on strike since last Wednesday.

The walkout - the 14th since early 2014 - has already grounded some 2,600 planes and affected more than 315,000 passengers. Lufthansa has said the disruption has started to hit medium-term bookings.

Pilots had been threatening to extend the strike beyond yesterday, raising concerns among investors at the growing cost to the company and the wider impact on Europe's largest economy.

But the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots' union said late on Friday that it now had no plans for further strikes beyond yesterday. It did not rule out further action in future, however, but said any strikes would be announced 24 hours in advance.

The walkout - the 14th since early 2014 - has already grounded some 2,600 planes and affected more than 315,000 passengers. Lufthansa has said the disruption has started to hit medium-term bookings.

The union dismissed the airline's latest offer as a "public relations move" and said it was not new.

Lufthansa said earlier it had offered to raise wages by 4.4 per cent in two instalments, as well as a one- off payment equal to 1.8 months' pay. The airline also said it had offered to create 1,000 jobs for junior pilots and up to 600 pilot traineeships over the next five years. It said it could enter mediation talks with the union on Tuesday.

In return, pilots would have to agree to a change to their pension scheme in which Lufthansa would guarantee only paid-in contributions. Cabin crew and ground staff have already agreed to the changes.

The union wants an average annual pay increase of 3.7 per cent for 5,400 pilots in Germany over a five-year period backdated to 2012.

Lufthansa pilots are well paid by industry standards. A pilot at Lufthansa earns on average €180,000 (S$272,000) a year before tax.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 27, 2016, with the headline 'Lufthansa pilots reject latest pay offer but won't extend strike'. Print Edition | Subscribe