Lufthansa confirms timeline for cabin crew negotiations

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Lufthansa has agreed with German flight-attendant union UFO a framework and timeline for the negotiations of new labour terms at the mainline carrier.

Noting that the sidespositions are “far apart in many areas”, Lufthansa says the discussions will continue until 15 January 2015. The parties have pledged that if no deal has been reached by that time, neither of them can withdraw from the negotiations without an agreement or arbitrated contract. All discussions are to be concluded by the end of 2015.

The negotiations will cover cabin crew terms for the A340-300 fleet, which Lufthansa aims to operate at lower cost than in the past. The airline plans to operate up to 14 aircraft of the legacy type with a new, denser cabin layout on low-yield routes under its own brand. But the reconfiguration – with 18 business-class seats and 282 economy and premium-economy seats – has thus far only been arranged for five A340s. A decision about the remaining aircraft is to be made in the autumn, Lufthansa Group chief executive Carsten Spohr said earlier this month.

Cabin crew costs could be cut by reducing the number of flight attendants and halving the number of pursers to one cabin chief per flight, says Lufthansa. If no agreement can be reached with UFO, the carrier warns, it could resort to wet-leasing aircraft from an external operation.

The discussions will also cover Lufthansa’s planned “Wings” family of low-cost subsidiaries, in which Germanwings is joined by Eurowings – to be realigned as a pan-European carrier – and a new long-haul arm. Lufthansa has pledged to keep UFO informed on the development of those subsidiaries in a “transparent“ manner within the “overall context of the [labour] negotiations”. But the carrier makes clear that working terms at the Wings family are not covered by the discussions with UFO.

Dubbed “agenda cabin”, the mutual objective of the framework is to improve the “future viability [of Lufthansa’s mainline operation] and perspectives for cabin crew members”, the airline says.

Consultation groups between the carrier and union will work on different areas that have been dealt with separately in the past. That will include labour agreements that have expired and contracts still in place, Lufthansa says. This is intended to create a “basis for comprehensive solutions”, it adds.