BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa staff have called on the German flag carrier to end its “cost-cutting craziness”, accusing the airline of mismanagement and contributing to the recent chaos at airports by laying off too many workers.
In a letter to the supervisory board seen by Reuters on Wednesday, staff representatives said there are too few employees to handle booming summer demand and they need to be given the right conditions to perform at their best.
Chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley said in a message to employees that he was aware of employees’ reports of aggression and in some cases even physical attacks by customers, “of despair and tears, of helplessness while remaining loyal to Lufthansa.”
“I have not seen such an accumulation of problems in my career,” he said in the message published on the Lufthansa intranet and seen by Reuters later on Wednesday.
Airspace closures and spare parts shortages due to the chip crisis are making the situation even worse, Kley said, adding he expects flight cancellations, staff recruitment and other measures introduced by Lufthansa to gradually bear fruit.
Lufthansa had slashed jobs and other costs during the coronavirus pandemic, which grounded most flights, and found itself understaffed just as it was trying to capitalize on the returning summer travel demand.
Lufthansa staff had warned “a service company that is run against its own staff has no future.”
Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr apologised to employees and customers in late June, saying the airline “did go too far in cutting costs here and there.”
Lufthansa is not the only struggling European airline as the whole aviation industry faces a summer of travel disruption amid looming walkouts.
Pilots of Scandinavian airline SAS went on strike, British Airways staff at London’s Heathrow airport in June voted to strike over pay, and Spanish-based cabin crew at Ryanair and easyJet plan to strike this month to demand better working conditions. Workers at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport stopped work at the weekend to demand a pay rise.
(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Writing by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Miranda Murray, Alexandra Hudson)