For the first quarter of 2021, German airline Lufthansa recorded a loss of €1 billion and simultaneously announced the elimination of a further 10,000 jobs. An initial announcement of 30,000 redundancies was already increased to 50,000 last year.
With the job cuts now unveiled, this figure will rise to 60,000 or more than 43 percent of the 138,000 employees at the airline in 2019. According to company figures, 24,000 full-time jobs have been eliminated over the past 12 months.
Lufthansa’s finance director, Remco Steenbergen, has threatened to impose compulsory redundancies. “We’re preparing for layoffs,” he warned at the quarterly update. The intention is to cut 10,000 full-time jobs “or make comparable savings in staffing costs.” This will serve as the pretext for the trade unions to enforce further wage cuts, allegedly with the aim of saving jobs.
The trade unions active at Lufthansa, including the service employees union Verdi, the Cockpit Association (VC), and Independent Flight Attendants Organisation (UFO), offered wage concessions to Lufthansa last year totalling €1.3 billion. Cockpit agreed to cut pilots’ wages by up to 50 percent. As a result, Lufthansa saved some €600 million. The UFO agreed to savings that will cut costs for the airline by half a billion euros by the end of 2023.
Then in November 2020, Verdi gave up employees’ holiday and Christmas pay, as well as accepting a wage freeze and the suspension of all benefits until the end of 2021. Verdi deputy leader Christine Behele said “the ground staffs are bearing cost-cutting contributions of over €200 million to overcome the crisis,”
The airline is now reporting that operating profits declined to €4 billion, compared to €8.2 billion during the same period a year earlier. Therefore, despite a 60 percent loss of revenue compared to the same period last year, from €6.4 billion in the first quarter of 2020 to €2.6 billion this year, the losses were halved, from €2.1 billion to €1 billion.
The sellout from last year is now entering its second round. The current loss of €1 billion is to be squeezed out of the remaining workforce. The company is currently negotiating with the VC and Verdi unions on further cuts for 2022.