March 27, 2020 / 1:39 PM / 5 months ago

Lufthansa applies for short-time work for 31,000 employees

FILE PHOTO: Airplanes of German carrier Lufthansa are parked on the tarmac as air traffic is affected by the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Frankfurt, Germany, March 23, 2020. Arne Dedert/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) has applied for short-time work for around 31,000 crew and ground staff at its core brand until the end of August, a spokesman said on Friday, as Germany’s flagship carrier has slashed flights due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Short-time work is a form of state aid that allows employers to switch employees to shorter working hours during an economic downturn to keep them on the payroll. It has been widely used by industry, including Germany’s car sector.

The spokesman said Lufthansa had not yet applied for state aid but was in talks with various banks and authorities about what kind of help would be possible if the airline needed it.

He said around 700 of Lufthansa’s roughly 760 planes were currently grounded.

In an interview with weekly magazine Der Spiegel, Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said he expected the global economy to shrink as a result of the crisis, adding globalization might be reversed to a certain extent.

“That’s why we are currently running different scenarios for a smaller Lufthansa group. In doing so we’re trying to possibly keep all our employees on board,” he told the magazine.

“But this will only work with innovative ideas such as comprehensive part time work for all employees.”

Reporting by Klaus Lauer; Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Scot W. Stevenson

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