Lufthansa pilots represented by trade union Vereinigung Cockpit have offered to waive up to 45% of their salaries for two years, in return for job security, to help the airline navigate the coronavirus crisis.

In March, the union and airline agreed short-time working arrangements for pilots – a first in Lufthansa’s history. The target was a 50% reduction in flightcrew costs. But Vereinigung Cockpit says the measure is “not enough” to bring the airline through a “crisis with an uncertain length”.

Parked Lufthansa aircraft

Source: Lufthansa

The union says the partial waiving of salaries and an additional reduction of current short-term work pay will together deliver savings of €350 million ($374 million) over a two-year term to 30 June 2022.

Lufthansa management has met with staff representatives and unions today to discuss the airline’s situation, Vereinigung Cockpit notes.

In return, the union demands that Lufthansa Group’s senior executive team is “committed” to employees and does “everything possible to overcome the crisis together with [staff] in a social partnership”.

The union asserts that a potential “protective shield” state-aid procedure would not meet those requirements.

Lufthansa Group is in talks with governments in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland to secure the company’s solvency, it says.

Vereinigung Cockpit president Markus Wahl states that pilots are committed to a “special responsibility” as staff in the “upper pay level”.

He says pilots would not shy away from “painful cuts”, but adds: “It is important that the jobs are preserved and protection against dismissal is agreed.”

Vereinigung Cockpit notes that the offer covers pilots employed under a collective agreement spanning flightcrew at Lufthansa mainline, the cargo operation, the Germanwings unit, and the flight-training organisation.

Lufthansa has not adopted short-time working for Germanwings pilots and earlier this month announced a plan to close the operation, which has been suspended as part of capacity cuts amid the coronavirus crisis. Cirium understands the operation has not yet been dissolved.

Vereinigung Cockpit tells Cirium that its salary-waiver offer is an attempt not to reverse the decision to close Germanwings but to improve job prospects for pilots at that carrier.

The union notes that in 1992 Lufthansa pilots waived a third of their salaries to help the airline through an economic crisis.