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As the company struggles with staff shortages in Germany, pilots in their subsidiary, Brussels Airlines, have gone on strike

Lufthansa cancels further 2,200 flights

Lufthansa cancels further 2,200 flights

The cancellation hits in the middle of the travel season and is caused by serious labour shortages coupled with a sudden rise of Covid cases

Yesterday, the German airline giant Lufthansa announced that it will have to cancel a further 2,200 flights during the summer, on top of what they have had to cut so far. Earlier this month, the company had to cancel 900 flights, mainly originating from their bases in Frankfurt and Munich. The main reason behind the decision is staff shortages, as the airline labour market has yet to recover from the pandemic.

The cancelled flights mainly affect domestic routes in Germany, especially those going out of Munich and Frankfurt. Unlike the previous announcement, the cut flights will be on weekdays, as well as on weekends. The company has stated that holiday routes will run as scheduled, though.

At the same time, pilots in Lufthansa’s subsidiary – Brussels Airlines, have decided to go on strike, leading to a further 300 cancellations until 25 June. The strikers’ main concern is over an increased workload, due to staff shortages.

Lufthansa has also said that it would inform passengers immediately in the event of a cancellation, while their flight will be rebooked to a suitable alternative. Alternatively, domestic flights in Germany may be replaced by rail journeys.

Quality over quantity   

According to a report by the DPA, the German Press Agency, the company is experiencing a severe shortage of staff, coupled with unexpected sick leave from crews, due to COVID-19. The staff shortages are mainly in ground crews and flight attendants.

However, a lack of backup personnel means that the airline and its subsidiaries are forced to operate on razor-thin margins. Any disruptions can lead to people being stranded without a return flight, as was the case in Salzburg last week.

These unfortunate circumstances have pushed the company towards making the decision to scale down its operation so that they are able to offer stability and reliability, preventing bottlenecks.

Ultimately, the 2,200 flights seem negligible, considering the company operates a total of 80,000 flights out of Frankfurt and Munich. However, to compensate for delays and to rebalance workloads, they have said that they may reschedule more flights.

Replaceable and irreplaceable

The Institute of the German Economy published a study on Wednesday, detailing the gaps in the aviation labour market. The study found that the sector needs an additional 7,200 specialist employees at airports. This is compounded by the problem that there are no more reserves in the labour market.

Between 2019 and 2021, the aviation industry in Germany shrank by an average of 4%, while during 2020, it almost came to a complete standstill. Many people were laid off and have since found work in other fields. This is disproportionately true for flight attendants and ground staff, as their skills translate well into other fields, as opposed to pilots.

According to the study, the number of flight attendants and service specialists fell by 15% compared to 2018-2019 levels. The same goes for skilled air traffic operators, where employment fell by 12.9%. The number of pilots, on the other hand, fell by just 1.5%, due to the fact that theirs is a highly specialised job that does not translate to other fields of work.

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