Lufthansa weighs cutting more jobs on travel slump

Harsh weather: Lufthansa aircraft are seen at Franz-Josef-Strauss airport in Munich. The carrier has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has caused a sharp drop in travel. — AFP

BERLIN: Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s biggest airline, is working on further belt-tightening measures that could result in the elimination of 20,000 more jobs, according to newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.

The steps are currently being hammered out by the management of the German carrier and could be communicated in September, the Swiss newspaper reported, citing two people it didn’t identify.

The cuts under consideration for September would be on top of measures already publicly announced, NZZ am Sonntag said.

A spokesman for Lufthansa, which employed more than 138,000 people as of Dec 31, denied the report when contacted by Bloomberg. The newspaper also cited a spokesman as saying there were no new job reduction plans.

The carrier has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a sharp drop in international travel.

Lufthansa’s goal is to cut costs equaling 22,000 full-time positions and to trim its fleet by 100 planes to bring down expenses. It also secured as much as €9bil (US$10.7bil) in state aid.

Of the 22,000 excess positions, about half are in Germany and the other half abroad, where it slashed more than 8,000 jobs already. It also signed an agreement with its cabin crew union that will safeguard jobs of 3,000 flight attendants in exchange for cuts to wages and benefits, and struck a stopgap deal with pilots to avoid firings in the cockpit for now.

Talks with Ver.di union, which represents ground staff, have collapsed. That has made it less likely that the company will be able to make do without forced redundancies.

“The way this crisis is developing is alarming, and so is how Lufthansa’s management is treating its employees at this time, ” Daniel Flohr, who heads the UFO cabin crew union, told Bloomberg News. “Luckily, cabin crew at Lufthansa’s main line are protected from layoffs, but whoever does not have such protection unfortunately has major worries.”

The airline industry has grown increasingly dour about its prospects, with the International Air Transport Association saying a full recovery was unlikely before 2024, a year later than it previously predicted.

NZZ am Sonntag cited an unidentified expert as saying the current situation was “deviating negatively” from the baseline scenario executives had agreed upon with the German government. — Bloomberg

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