Lufthansa has temporarily canceled its flights between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt, ahead of a four-day pilot strike at Germany’s largest airline poised to start on Monday.
Germany is bracing for major disruptions in travel if the pilots go through with their plan to strike from Monday through Thursday. The airline, which has already canceled around 800 flights, estimates the strike could cost it as much as 100 million.
Lufthansa normally operates two round trips a day on the Tel Aviv to Frankfurt route. The airline has canceled its evening flights from Monday through to Thursday. Morning flight connections between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt will operate as usual, except for Wednesday, when all its flights between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt are set to be canceled.
Lufthansa said it expects no disruptions on its route between Tel Aviv and Munich that operates on Tuesday and Thursday.
Passengers booked on flights from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt between February 22 and February 24 will be able to make changes to their booking, without any charge, provided that the tickets were issued before February 18 and are scheduled for travel before May 31. Updated information on the planned strike and the flight cancelations is available at www.lufthansa.com. From Monday morning, Lufthansa Israel will be operating a special hotline for customers here.
Over the weekend, Lufthansa was seeking to head off a massive strike by offering pilots job security until 2012 if they return to talks instead of walking off their jobs.
Lufthansa board member
Stefan Lauer told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung on Sunday that the airline was prepared to guarantee the jobs of its more than 4,000 pilots for two years if they return to negotiations.
Lufthansa has already canceled about 800 international flights ahead of the strike and is scrambling to re-book travelers on partner airlines or trains.
“Around two-thirds of Lufthansa flights affected by the strike have been canceled as a preemptive measure,” the airline said in a statement over the weekend. “Lufthansa is doing everything in its power to inform its customers as soon as possible and offer them alternative travel options.”
The union is urging some 4,500 pilots who fly for Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings to walk off their jobs from February 22 to 25, and to press the airline for increased job security for pilots in Germany and abroad.
“We can talk immediately about the issue of job security for Lufthansa pilots when Cockpit [the pilots’ trade union] drops its unreasonable and legally impossible demand for the extension of German labor conditions abroad,” said Lufthansa board member Christoph Franz in a statement.
Cockpit accuses the airline of outsourcing more and more flights to pilots employed by other companies, who work for less pay and under worse conditions.
Also Saturday, German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer warned the strike could seriously damage the German economy.
“It can not be that the largest German air fleet is grounded for four days,” Ramsauer told the Bild am Sonntag weekly.AP contributed to this report.