Pilots at German flag-carrier Lufthansa have returned to work after just one day, following the suspension of a planned four day strike.
Officials at Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), the pilots’ trade union, agreed to resume talks with airline representatives following a walkout by pilots at Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings – the carrier’s low-budget subsidiary – late on Sunday night.
No further action will be taken until March 9th, the union confirmed.
As many as 4,000 pilots at the German airline downed tools in protest over perceived threats to job security, with some 900 flights cancelled across Lufthansa’s network yesterday.
Pilots are concerned Lufthansa may attempt to cut costs by outsourcing posts to European subsidiaries. Concerns have been heightened following recent deals with British Midland Airways and Austrian Airways.
“VC has said that it is prepared to resume talks, and we are sticking with that,” explained negotiator Thomas von Sturm.
Lufthansa had warned the strike would cost some £22 million a day, while German transport minister Peter Ramsauer warned of untold damage to the airline’s reputation and even possible consequences for the nation’s economic recovery.
Despite the decision to return to work, Lufthansa warned a modified timetable would remain in place on Tuesday, with a gradual normalisation of services expected from Wednesday.
Passengers experiencing delays on domestic flights are likely to be offered alternative rail transport, while those heading to long-haul destinations may be offered travel with Star Alliance partners.
Further disruption is also expected following a decision by French air traffic controllers to strike over Europe’s single sky policy. Aimed at modernising air traffic control, union members argue their jobs and status are under threat.
Reports suggest as many as five French airports were closed on Tuesday, following the decision to strike, with hundreds of flights across the country cancelled.
Departures from Pau, Biarritz, Grenoble, La Rochelle and Chambéry are all delayed or cancelled because of the industrial action. Flights from Paris Orly have also been cancelled, while capacity at Charles de Gaulle Airport has also been reduced.
News of industrial action from France and Germany is echoed in Britain, where cabin crew at British Airways voted to strike yesterday.
The union Unite balloted over 15,000 staff after the airline imposed what it views as illegal changes to contracts. Staff strongly supported industrial action, with an announcement on planned dates expected shortly.