Last Update: at 20:17

Dispute with unions

Luxair in fight with unions over cost cutting

The flag carrier of Luxembourg has adopted tough cost-cutting measures amid the current crisis. Trade unions accuse Luxair's management of acting alone.

«Luxair is not doing well» – with these words, new CEO Gilles Feith described the airline’s situation in July. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, passenger numbers have fallen by two thirds in the first half of 2020, compared to the previous year. About one third of the employees are on short-time work, as a restart is progressing very slowly.

In June, home base Luxembourg Airport only counted about one tenth the number of passengers compared to the same period in the previous year. In July, Luxair’s booking figures fell even further. It became apparent that Luxembourg’s flag carrier would have to embark on a tough cost-cutting course.

«Punch in the face»

Together with cargo airline Cargolux, Airport operator Luxairport, the government of Luxembourg and trade unions, Luxair declared after a crisis meeting in July that it could avoid dismissals. The meeting partners decided to make joint plans to strengthen the country’s aviation sector.

A few days before the next summit on Thursday (September 17), Luxair decided to make its own cutbacks, reports the local newspaper Luxemburger Wort. The airline’s management allegedly drew these up without consulting the meeting partners, unions complain. They call it a «slap in the face».

Cuts at the expense of employees

The catalogue of measures provides for a reduction in salaries for three years, limiting holidays to the legal minimum and suspending payment of a 13th month’s salary. The newspaper vum Lëtzebuerger Vollek reports that seniority promotions and paid 15-minute breaks will also be abolished. The government of Luxembourg, which holds 52% of the shares in Luxair, has yet to issue a statement.

It cannot be ruled out that Luxembourg will defuse the measures. Critical voices accuse Luxair of using the announcement as a prolonged negotiating lever in the run-up to upcoming crisis meetings where cost-cutting measures will be discussed. Luxair has not yet responded to a request for comment by aeroTELEGRAPH.

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