Lufthansa fleet (Image: Reuters)
Lufthansa has laid-off 103 Indian cabin crew members citing COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on the airline, a fired employee told The Economic Times.
The German carrier has “terminated services” of 103 fixed contracted Indian flight attendants based in Delhi “overnight, without prior notice, citing the COVID-19 pandemic,” the employee told the newspaper.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
They said the severance package was “only a month’s salary”, adding that some of the terminated staff were employed with the airline for close to 15 years. They claimed that similar layoffs have not happened in Germany or other countries yet.
Another 32 cabin crew members have been retained, the employee added.
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A protest against the decision was held on February 12 by some fired staff at the Delhi Airport Aerocity.
Responding to queries, Lufthansa told the newspaper the financial impact of the pandemic “has forced it to take such drastic steps”, leaving it no choice but to restructure.
“This includes personnel-related measures in Germany and Europe as well as in key international markets like India. Given our current cash burn of several hundred million euros every month, Lufthansa – like all airlines worldwide – must take steps to secure its future,” the airline said.
According to the news report, Lufthansa further said it “must plan with 150 fewer aircraft in the long run (by 2025)” which will affect staff requirement in all markets. “Even now, low demand for international air travel resulting particularly from government restrictions leaves cabin staff with little or no work left to do,” it added.
The airline also clarified that the restructuring will be worldwide, including Germany where they have reached initial agreements with unions. It said that “every possible option was exhausted” and it is in “close consultation with the Indian union at all times.”
“It would have avoided compulsory redundancies for our cabin staff. We had signed an agreement with the Indian union providing for two years of unpaid leave, with Lufthansa continuing to provide the local health insurance – even for enrolled family members. Lufthansa was also willing to absorb all associated premiums during this period. Unfortunately, consent to the agreement was revoked by the union on December 31. Indian cabin crew with unlimited contracts are not affected as Lufthansa was able to reach individual agreements with these flight attendants,” the airline said.
The news report suggested that most of the Indian cabin crew in question were hired under Lufthansa’s “more Indian than you think” campaign aimed at attracting Indian customers. The campaign did work, but now the coronavirus pandemic has severely affected travel in and out of the country for the airline with weekly services between Germany and India dropping to 10 from 56.
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