Lufthansa pilots agree to mediated talks in pay dispute
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote) and German pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit have agreed to mediated talks to resolve a row over contracts dating back to 2012, averting the threat of further strikes for a few more weeks, the two parties said on Friday.
Lufthansa has been embroiled in a series of separate disputes with its pilots and cabin crew staff over pay and conditions as management seeks to reduce costs to compete with budget airlines and more efficient long-haul carriers.
The mediation process is to start in early January and be completed within the month, during which time the pilots will not call for further strikes, Lufthansa and VC said in a statement on Friday.
"The negotiating table is the only place where we can find solutions that offer prospects for employees and for the company," said Bettina Volkens, Lufthansa's head of personnel.
Lufthansa's pilots have walked out 15 times since early 2014, costing the carrier hundreds of millions of euros in lost profits. Most recently, they were on strike for six days in November, costing the airline a further 100 million euros ($104 million) in profits.
The pilots have asked for an average annual pay increase of 3.7 percent over a five-year period back-dated to 2012, which is when their last collective bargaining contract with Lufthansa expired. The pilots say altogether these increases would amount to a rise of nearly 20 percent on current pay.
Lufthansa has proposed an increase of 4.4 percent in two installments in 2016 and 2017, plus a one-off payment worth 1.8 months' pay.
CABIN CREW DISPUTE Continued...