Air Berlin reaches pay deal with pilots

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Air Berlin has reached a labour agreement with its pilots, who had threatened a walkout last month.

Only limited details have been revealed about the deal, which will be valid until the end of 2016. But it includes a commitment to consistent labour contracts for all pilots across the German airline's operations.

The agreement - which includes target numbers of block hours and flight-sector allowances - is the first to apply to pilots at former charter operator LTU in Düsseldorf as well as the carrier's other flight divisions, says Air Berlin.

The carrier narrowly avoided industrial action when it made a last-minute offer in June, after discussions with employees had stalled.

The German pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit said at the time that the planned warning strikes were a last resort to demand "an approach to industry-typical pay levels in the medium term". The union was looking to benchmark against carriers such as Lufthansa's low-cost subsidiary Germanwings.

The aim of the agreement was to achieve "long-term perspectives" for both the employees and Air Berlin, with a particular focus on raising the airline's productivity, says Markus Germann, the union's remuneration expert. "With the new labour agreement, we created incentives for the pilots to work more productively and thus be more efficiently employed [by the airline]."

No details have been revealed about any pay rises or efficiency gains, however. "A new labour agreement is always a compromise," says Germann. "But we think we have found an acceptable solution for both sides."