Lufthansa Cancels Flights Amid Pilots' Strike, 700 Passengers Stranded at IGI
Around 700 passengers were stranded at Delhi's IGI Airport, after the airline cancelled two flights.
The Quint DAILY
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German airline Lufthansa said that it will have to cancel around 800 flights on Friday, 2 September, after pilots decided to hold a strike amid an escalation of an ongoing wage dispute, Reuters reported.
Later in the day, around 700 passengers were stranded at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, after the airline cancelled one flight each to Munich and Frankfurt.
Visuals of several passengers demanding "justice" also emerged, and several passengers were seen sitting and making calls for refunds at the airline's check-in counter at IGI's Terminal 3.
The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) Union had said that pay talks had failed and that pilots would stage a protest after midnight on Thursday, affecting both passenger flight services as well as Lufthansa’s cargo division.
"We hope to get back to negotiations as soon as possible," a Lufthansa spokesperson said. "However, we cannot bear the cost increases associated with VC's demands either," the spokesperson added, according to Reuters.
The VC Union's demands are a 5.5 percent raise in 2022 for its more than 5,000 pilots and automatic inflation compensation thereafter.
Around 700 Passengers Stranded at Delhi Airport as Airline Cancels 2 Flights
According to the police, more than 100 people, relatives and family members of the stranded passengers, also gathered outside the airport demanding refunds or alternate arrangements.
The police said that they received information about the crowd gathered outside the airport at around 12:15 am.
The crowd, which caused a traffic jam outside, demanded a refund or alternate arrangement for their relatives who were present inside the terminal building, Deputy Commissioner of Police (airport) Tanu Sharma said.
When they were told that the flights had been cancelled without any prior intimation, they became agitated. They were later pacified by the CISF and the airport staff.
The airline is taking steps to make alternate arrangements, said the police.
In an appeal, one user said, "All Lufthansa flights cancelled. Sir, please help us. We are students, senior citizens, and so many people stranded here in Indira Gandhi Airport, Terminal 3."
Another Twitter user said, "Students' Strike at IGI Airport Delhi as Lufthansa cancels two flights to Germany and they ain't finding a solution."
"Students are in panic as most are colleges are starting from 6th and they ain't rebooking before 10th September," the Twitter user added.
'Missed Opportunity': Union Spokesperson
"We have not received a sufficient offer today either. This is sobering and a missed opportunity,” Reuters quoted VC spokesperson Matthias Baier as saying.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa Executive Board member Michael Niggemann, who is responsible for human resources, called the strike incomprehensible and defended Lufthansa's "very good and socially balanced" offer.
Reuters reported that the airline offered a total €900 ($901.35) increase in the basic pay every month in two stages over an 18-month term, along with an agreement that guarantees a minimum fleet size of flight crew members.
Previously on Wednesday, Lufthansa’s subsidiary, Eurowings, saw its pilots vote in favour of the strikes but also want to continue with wage negotiations.
In August, Lufthansa's management arrived at a pay deal with the ground staff, avoiding further walkouts after a strike inadvertently forced it to cancel 1,000 flights.
(With inputs from Reuters, PTI.)
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