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Lufthansa sacks 103 Delhi-based flight attendants on fixed term contracts

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on February 12, 2021

‘No prior notice given; some of them employed for 15 years’; airline said its exhausted all possible options

European carrier Lufthansa has terminated the services of its 103 Indian Flight Attendants on fixed term contracts based in Delhi overnight. Lufthansa blames the Covid-19 pandemic and the Union for revoking consent to unpaid leave.

Lufthansa was granted State Aid by the German Government in June 2020, said one of the employees requesting anonymity. “No such terminations have happened in Germany or worldwide till date. These terminations happened overnight without giving any prior notice. Some of these terminated people had been employed for nearly 15 years. The Indian cabin crew Union is already in a court case against Lufthansa management for Unfair Labour Practices since 2017,” she added.

Also read: Rise in virus cases could see global airlines fly into financial turmoil

When BusinessLine reached out to Lufthansa, it said that it “regrets to confirm that it will not be extending the fixed-term employment contracts of its Delhi-based flight attendants.”

“We exhausted every possible option and had even already reached an agreement with the Indian union (with whom) we were in close consultation at all times. It would have avoided compulsory redundancies for our cabin staff.”

Lufthansa said that it had signed an agreement with the Indian union providing for two years of unpaid leave, with Lufthansa continuing to provide the local health insurance – even for enrolled family members.

Lufthansa claimed it was also willing to absorb all associated premiums during this period. “Unfortunately, consent to the agreement was revoked by the union on December 31. Indian cabin crew with unlimited contracts are not affected as Lufthansa was able to reach individual agreements with these flight attendants.”

“Not being able to reach an agreement for cabin crew with fixed-term employment contracts forces us to take this step as part of an inevitable restructuring of Lufthansa Group. It should be noted that this restructuring is not limited to India but affects all our worldwide markets and to a great extent includes our home markets, especially Germany. However, there we were able to reach initial agreements with unions to help weather the crisis.”

The airline further said that there has been a severe financial impact because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It leaves Lufthansa no choice but to restructure the airline. This includes personnel-related measures in Germany and Europe as well as in key international markets like India.”

The airline said that it has a current cash burn of several hundred million euros every month, “Lufthansa – like all airlines worldwide – must take steps to secure its future.”

Lufthansa said that it plans to deploy 150 fewer aircraft by 2025. “It follows that required cabin staff in all our markets is also affected. Even now, low demand for international air travel resulting particularly from government restrictions leaves cabin staff with little or no work left to do.”

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Published on February 12, 2021
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