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Airline Strikes Impact Travel

February 23, 2010

Three days into the week and Europe has seen two strikes in the airline industry. Approximately 4000 Lufthansa pilots hit the picket lines Monday amid worries of job security.  Germany’s largest airline has increasingly outsourced pilot duties to cheaper foreign subsidiaries. This has Lufthansa pilots, who start at a comfortable 60,000+ euros per year, concerned that they may soon be grounded. 

The strike disrupted about half of Lufthansas 1800 flights and 10,000 passengers worldwide through Monday. The strike, intended to last four days, was suspended at midnight Tuesday after officials for the cockpit union agreed to resume negotiations. Needless to say this was good news for Lufthansa, who stood to lose roughly 25 million euros per day through the strike, and air travelers.

But as one strike came to a close, across the Rhine another began.  Today air traffic controllers from Paris’ two largest airports, Charles De Gaulle and Orly, began to strike in response to a new EU measure to integrate air traffic control systems. The fear, similar to the case of the Lufthansa pilots, is that the new changes will result not only in job cuts but a loss of generous civil service benefits. The strike has been planned to last 5 days. While international travel will remain relatively unaffected, domestic travel will be difficult in and out of Orly and Charles De Gaul.

It looks like the cases of Lufthansa and the Parisian air traffic controllers may just be the beginning of an unpredictable time in European airtravel. Greek air traffic controllers plan to strike for 24 hours on Wednesday , the second time in less than a month, and British Airways cabin crew members have announced that there will be a walk out in the near future. For the foreseeable future, I think I’ll take my travel cues from Google Maps:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. kallanchen permalink*
    February 24, 2010 1:02 pm

    Here’s hoping that they get this all figured out before summer travel season. I am less than confident about my swimming skills, not to mention a severe lack of any sense of direction. That being said, I’d be curious where these “cheaper foreign subsidiaries” are being imported from. Is this another case of Polish plumbers?

  2. February 24, 2010 1:19 pm

    According to one of the pilots, in a submission to the BBC, there were concerns that the subsidiary airlines that Lufthansa has acquired over the years would essentially take over flagship Lufthansa routes. These include Austrian Airlines, Swiss Air, and British Midlands…not exactly names I expected, but I think that speaks to just how well compensated Lufthansa pilots are.

    I found a website that shows average pilot salaries by country. German pilots are the highest paid in the world (~$100,000 per year)! UK pilots, in second place for Europe, make a little more than half of what German pilots make. While that list does not break down by airline, in Germany it’s safe to say that a significant portion of that average is from Lufthansa.

    The Lufthansa pilot’s BBC submission can be found at:

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