German airline Lufthansa has narrowly avoided a second strike by making a deal with its pilot union at the last minute. The Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union had called for what would’ve been a second walkout in a single week at the airline, but now that Lufthansa is offering a more favorable contract, the union is cancelling the proposed walkout.
The union planned to strike Wednesday through Thursday for passenger plane pilots, and Wednesday through Friday for those flying cargo planes. This second walkout was to be a follow-up to another held last Friday, which grounded 800 flights and affected more than 100,000 passengers, according to the Associated Press.
The first walkout lasted only one day. A two- and three-day walkout would’ve disrupted Lufthansa’s flight plans massively, so the airline is now approaching pilots with a deal that’s allegedly good enough for them to call off the strike.
The Vereinigung Cockpit union originally asked Lufthansa for a 5.5 percent raise with back pay dating to July. The VC also wanted an 8.2 percent pay increase due in 2023 to keep up with high inflation in Germany. And pilots wanted a new pay structure and holiday calendar.
Lufthansa rejected the union’s initial demands, claiming it would increase staffing costs by 40 percent in the next couple of years, and end up costing the airline €900 million, or about $892.26 million at current exchange rates. The airline countered with a temporary pay raise of €900, or about $892. The raise was a one-off, according to AP News, and the union refused the counteroffer.
That led to the first walkout, leaving Lufthansa executives scrambling and grounding hundreds of flights. This is Germany’s biggest airline, after all. It looks like the carrier isn’t keen on a repeat of last Friday, but it’s unclear what the airline is now offering; the details of this latest deal will be “fleshed out” in the next few days, as Reuters reports. But if bargaining stalls again, it looks like the Vereinigung Cockpit and its 5,000 pilots are in a solid position.