Lufthansa to cut more jobs as virus pummels travel

FRANKFURT • Lufthansa said on Monday it will slash more jobs on top of 22,000 previously announced cuts and put more planes out of service as the coronavirus continues to crush travel demand.

The German airline group said in a statement it was losing some €500 million (RM2.5 billion) a month and bookings were declining after a brief rebound over the summer.

To cut costs, Lufthansa now plans to reduce its roughly 800-strong fleet by 150 planes by 2025, compared to an earlier plan to scrap 100 aircraft.

“The previously announced personnel surplus amounting to 22,000 full-time positions will increase as a result of the decisions taken,” it said.

The group did not give a figure for the additional job cuts, but sources close to the negotiations put the number at around 5,000.

Lufthansa said it would engage in talks with labour representatives to “limit the number of necessary redundancies”.

Managers will also be hit, with one in five management positions to go in the first quarter (1Q) of 2021.

The company’s negotiations with unions are proving difficult however, and German media have said pilots at subsidiary Germanwings could be among the first to face redundancy in 2021.

German union Verdi, which represents ground staff, accused Lufthansa of lacking a clear vision for the future.

“It’s clear to everyone that things can’t go on without cuts,” Verdi’s Mira Neumaier said in a statement. “But the company will not be saved through job cuts alone.”

Lufthansa, which also owns Swiss, Brussels and Austria Airlines, was saved from bankruptcy through a German government bailout worth €9 billion in June.

But the airline has repeatedly warned that the government rescue would not be enough to stave off painful cuts as the sector weathers an unprecedented crisis.

“The outlook for international air traffic has significantly worsened in recent weeks,” Lufthansa said, in a nod to the rapid uptick in coronavirus cases across Europe.

Lufthansa said its previous assumption that travel demand could reach half of last year’s in the 4Q “no longer seems realistic”. — AFP