Deutsche Lufthansa AG faces its 12th strike by pilots over retirement benefits despite concessions in a conflict that has hurt earnings at Europe’s second-largest airline.
The Vereinigung Cockpit pilots union has asked Lufthansa cockpit crews on short- and medium-haul flights to walk out for the day on Wednesday for the second strike this year, after 10 in 2014. While the union said in a statement that the company’s Germanwings and Eurowings units aren’t affected, Lufthansa said that Germanwings flights would suffer.
On the strike day, Lufthansa plans to operate “a large proportion” of approximately 3,000 flights it has scheduled, the Cologne, Germany-based airline said in a statement. Lufthansa said it made concessions in past days, suggesting pilots will still be able to retire at 55, as well as offering to expand the main Lufthansa brand operations with associated benefits in a move that would add about 500 cockpit jobs.
The conflict cut Lufthansa’s operating profit by about 220 million euros ($233 million) in 2014 and contributed to Carsten Spohr lowering financial targets twice in his first year as chief executive officer. While the strike is only targeting retirement programs, the pilots also oppose Lufthansa cutting cockpit costs by moving flights to its Eurowings brand and its SunExpress joint venture.
Lufthasa fell 1.1 percent to 12.98 euros at 9:28 a.m. in Frankfurt trading, taking the decline to 6.1 percent this year.
The union said it won’t accept younger pilots having to agree to early retirement benefits that are “noticeably worse” than those paid to longer-serving ones.
The company said talks with the union had been scheduled for Tuesday, when it will publish an amended flight schedule.
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