Lufthansa Rejects Pilots' Demand For Mediation

December 19, 2014

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Lufthansa has rejected demands by pilots to discuss via mediation its plans to expand its low-cost operations, a decision that could lead to further strikes.

Lufthansa has been embroiled in a dispute with its pilots that has led to 10 walkouts this year, costing the airline more than EUR€160 million (USD$196 million) while it struggles to lower its cost base to cope with fierce competition.

The pilots want Lufthansa to maintain a scheme that allows them to retire at 55 and keep receiving up to 60 percent of their salary until pension payments start at 65.

They also oppose Lufthansa's plans to start low-cost long-haul flights, objecting to the way management is pushing through low-cost expansion in Europe by using pilots from a unit that is not part of the collective wage agreements at the Lufthansa or Germanwings units.

The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) pilots union has said it would only accept an offer by Lufthansa to enter mediation talks if they included all areas of its dispute with management.

A spokesman for Lufthansa said on Friday that the carrier was willing to expand talks beyond just early retirement benefits but said the low-cost expansion plans were not up for discussion.

"This shows that Lufthansa is not interested in pacification," VC board member Joerg Handwerg said, adding the union would decide early next year whether to accept Lufthansa's new proposal or call for more industrial action.