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FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) – At Lufthansa, the nerves are on the verge. Parallel to the crisis meeting of the supervisory board being pushed through by the trade unions, some employee representatives strongly criticized the management board’s crisis management. The background to this is numerous flight cancellations and a lack of services in recent weeks, which has led, for example, to extremely low punctuality figures at the Frankfurt hub.
According to an internal assessment available to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, just 41.2% of all Lufthansa flights last week were made on time. At the Frankfurt hub, this was just over a quarter of flights (26 percent). Group management board member Detlev Kayser complained in the document that the suppliers of groundhandling services have a shortage of staff.
At the heart of Lufthansa’s criticism is CEO Carsten Spohr, who recently admitted he had overdone savings “at one point or another” during the corona crisis. Works councils see it differently: “Rather than seeing the crisis across the aviation industry as an opportunity to join forces to find a common path through the pandemic, Group Management apparently saw it as an opportunity to reduce long-term collective bargaining and operational (cost) structures.” Collective bargaining will also be difficult for the main company’s ground staff and pilots in the coming weeks and months.
Lufthansa initially did not comment on the course and content of the Supervisory Board meeting. Verdi vice-president and trade unionist Christine Behle asked the management board for concrete action plans. Due to the constant burden of sick leaves in individual wards, you can hear up to 40 percent. Physical and psychological attacks on staff are also increasing at an alarming rate.
Because too much was saved and too long, there was a shortage of staff on both the ground and the planes, which the works council criticized. Your analysis of the situation is devastating. According to the letter available to dpa, Lufthansa is jeopardizing its good reputation and losing regular visitors. In many areas, there is a shortage of staff, colleagues are on the verge of physical and mental stress, and sick leave ranges from 20 to 30 percent. Employee representatives accuse the management board of not changing course quickly enough. “The threats of dismissal were held for far too long to finally achieve the desired concessions, and as a result were postponed far too late.”
According to the operator Fraport, service problems at Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt will persist for several months. It will remain at its current level for another two to three months and other flights will also have to be canceled, said the CEO Stephen Schulte. With a view to starting school holidays in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate on 23 July, he said: “Summer schools are yet to come.”
Several hundred flights in Frankfurt for July and August have already been canceled in cooperation with the main customer Lufthansa. The maximum hourly capacity of the airport has been reduced from 10 to 94 operations per hour in order to improve the handling of the remaining flights. “We’ve avoided total chaos so far,” said Schulte.
Relatively high level of non-punctuality and long waiting times, especially for luggage, for which Schulte apologized to passengers. The loading of departing planes and the baggage of transit passengers are now prioritized. So those who end their trip in Frankfurt sometimes have to wait two hours for their suitcases. The extra effort comes when passengers leave the airport empty of luggage, as the suitcases then have to be delivered later. On the other hand, passenger checks were relatively smooth.
Schulte admitted that he misjudged the developments during the corona crisis. However, the emigration of low-income workers could not be prevented even with increased short-term work benefits as they are also dependent on shift allowances. They would look for a job in other sectors./ceb/DP/stw
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