Crew strikes widen Thursday as Lufthansa fails to prevail in court


Striking cabin crew workers at Lufthansa are planning labour stoppage plans that will force the cancellation of more than 900 flights Thursday, after the German air carrier failed to force its staff back to work with a court order.

The 933 flights set to be canceled would affect 107,000 passengers and surpass the 930 flights cancelled Wednesday, which had already been the worst day so far of this strike action.

A Dusseldorf court on Wednesday allowed the strikes, which are set to last through Friday, to continue. That was a reversal from Tuesday, when the court had blocked strikes, but only in Dusseldorf and only on Tuesday.

A court in Darmstadt had on Tuesday refused to force the workers back on the job.

Cabin crew workers are protesting Lufthansa’s policies on pay, pension benefits and retirement age. It is the longest-running labour action ever mounted by the carrier’s cabin crew union.

More than 3,700 flights have been cancelled since Friday, affecting more than 443,000 passengers.

Lufthansa on Monday offered its workers a higher one-off payment for 2015 and agreed to earlier retirements. But it noted that such offers had to be made in light of a competitive market, which the cabin crew union took as a veiled hint at job cuts.

Carsten Spohr, the airline’s chief, said the company will continue to take a hard line with the strikers and said the stand-off will continue for as long as necessary because the company cannot agree to the workers’ demands.

But he also held out the possibility of returning to talks with the workers.

“Every strike day is one too many,” he said.

But union representatives said talks would only start if Lufthansa demonstrably recognized workers’ demands.

“Otherwise we would have to explain to our colleagues why we were ready for talks now when nothing has changed,” said Nicoley Baublies, head of the Ufo union.

Lufthansa said it was working to update customers with information about flight availability as quickly as possible.

Along with the many passengers affected, the Latvian national football team got caught up in the strike action, unable to reach a friendly game in Ireland because the first leg of its flight, from Riga to Frankfurt, was canceled.

The team will fly a different route, meaning it is only expected to arrive in Ireland a day before the game.