A Deutsche Lufthansa AG pilots union strike will disrupt the airline’s service Monday and Tuesday, Reuters reported. The German pilots union, Vereinigung Cockpit, or VC, announced the walkout Sunday as a result of a long-running dispute over retirement benefits, the Wall Street Journal reported. The work stoppage will affect all short- and mid-distance Lufthansa flights out of Germany on Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Embraer aircraft.
“The goal of the strike is a new collective agreement for all employees of the cockpit crew,” VC said in a statement on its German-language website. The union urged Lufthansa executives to “abandon their blockade” approach to negotiations.
VC also represents pilots at Lufthansa’s budget carrier Germanwings. They went out on a 12-hour strike over early-retirement benefits Thursday, the Associated Press reported. However, Germanwings will not be hit by the walkout this week, Reuters said.
VC represents about 5,400 pilots. Lufthansa pilots can retire at the age of 55 and get 60 percent of their salary before receiving regular pension payments. New European Union legislation changed the policy for pilots, allowing them to fly until the age of 65. Because of competition and cost-cutting measures planned to deal with it, Deutsche Lufthansa wants to increase the age of retirement for its pilots, but the union has rejected the move.
VC already has called seven pilot strikes this year, Agence France-Presse reported. A three-day strike in April led to the cancellation of 3,800 flights, with Lufthansa reporting a loss of as much as $103 million due to the walkout. VC did not estimate how many flights would be affected by the walkout this week.
Elsewhere, an Air France pilots union strike in September affected more than 500,000 passengers and cost the airline hundreds of millions of dollars during the two-week-long walkout.