Lufthansa passengers can breathe deeply. At least for Easter and the days after, there is no threat of new strikes at the core company of Europe’s largest aviation group, and German airports will also be spared from further labor disputes until at least April 7th.

But the agreement reached by the arbitrators with Verdi for the ground staff cannot hide the fact that there are further conflicts simmering within the group with its numerous collective bargaining partners, which could disrupt flight operations again at any time – and that just in time for the summer flight schedule, in which the airlines are ramping up their program again.

The latest example was provided by the crews of the Austrian subsidiary Austrian, who canceled around 400 flights until Friday afternoon with a strike. Around 50,000 passengers are affected and are being offered free rebookings or cancellations. Pilots and flight attendants want to catch up with their colleagues at Lufthansa with their salaries and put the gap at 40 percent. At the beginning of April, the workforce will discuss further measures.

Up to 18 percent more salary

After successful arbitration, Lufthansa’s parent company’s approximately 25,000 ground employees in Germany will now receive an average of 12.5 percent more money over a period of 24 months, as both sides reported on Thursday. Base amounts in both levels ensure that the lower salary groups benefit above average with up to 18 percent. There are also further allowances and a two-part inflation bonus totaling 3,000 euros. The agreement is still subject to a survey of the Verdi members, who had already voted in favor of an indefinite strike.

It is the large number of airlines and unions that makes collective bargaining at strike-sensitive Lufthansa so difficult. The arbitrators Bodo Ramelow and Frank-Jürgen Weise expressed the hope on Wednesday that the laboriously reached compromise for the ground staff could be the starting point for a “new Lufthansa” that would fly in unison against the sometimes unfairly subsidized competition. Verdi negotiator Marvin Reschinsky also promised to fight “together hand in hand” for a good Lufthansa and a good product.

Listen carefully, point out differences

According to their own statements, the mediators above all listened well, pointed out differences and then persuaded the social partners to find solutions themselves. Thuringia’s Prime Minister Ramelow said they had no ambition to make their own suggestions, and as a Lufthansa customer he also wanted a functioning operation. Many elements that ultimately contributed to the solution were already included in the collective bargaining.

Reschinsky as well as Lufthansa’s human resources director Michael Niggemann firmly expected that their committees would follow the arbitrators’ suggestions and finalize a key points paper on Thursday. The new contract for the approximately 25,000 ground workers is scheduled to last for two years until the end of 2025. This averts indefinite strikes by this group of employees. In a strike vote, more than 90 percent of employees had already voted for indefinite strikes. You now have to be questioned again.

The approximately 19,000 flight attendants at Lufthansa and the regional subsidiary Lufthansa Cityline have already completed a strike vote and a first round of strikes. Negotiations have continued since then. The cabin union UFO is giving the all-clear for the holidays. Your tariff expert Harry Jaeger said: “We will not ruin Easter for anyone. Instead, we will resume talks immediately after the holidays and strive for a solution at the negotiating table.”

No result is foreseeable at the moment. UFO demanded 15 percent more money for a contract term of one and a half years. The union also wants to achieve an inflation compensation bonus of 3,000 euros and higher allowances.

Dispute also at Discover

The conflict surrounding the comparatively young holiday flight subsidiary Discover Airlines is even more explosive, as it still has no collective agreements for its approximately 2,000 employees almost three years after it was founded. Both the pilots of the Cockpit Association and the cabin crew organized by UFO have already tried to force the first collective bargaining agreements for coats and remuneration with strikes. So far without success, especially since Lufthansa is reportedly also talking to Verdi about possible collective agreements at the subsidiary. If Verdi were to win the contract, the relationship with the other two unions, which are particularly strong in the core airline, would be significantly strained.

Lufthansa has no influence on collective bargaining for the approximately 25,000 employees of private aviation security companies who check passengers and luggage at airports outside Bavaria. Here too, Verdi has already organized several waves of warning strikes and paralyzed airports. The solution should now come through arbitration, which will start on April 5th under the direction of Bremen State Finance Councilor Hans-Henning Lühr.

Summer flight schedule: There will be more flights again from Easter Sunday

New labor disputes would hit Lufthansa and other airlines hard. Because from Easter Sunday they will switch to the summer flight schedule – and thus ramp up their program. “It is all the more important that the unions maintain a sense of proportion in the ongoing collective bargaining so that Germany can continue to catch up as an aviation location,” said Matthias von Randow, general manager of the Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL). In contrast to its European neighbors, German aviation is recovering more slowly from the slump caused by the corona pandemic.