Last Update: at 21:22

Project Ocean

Pilots criticise Lufthansa for its push against Condor and Tui

With Project Ocean, Lufthansa wants to expand its tourism business and compete with Condor and Tui. Germany's pilot union criticised the plans.

On Wednesday (September 16), Lufthansa announced new holiday destinations from Frankfurt for the coming summer season. Board member Harry Hohmeister said: «We already have a great and long-standing competence in tourism offers and we are now determined to expand this as part of our strategy.» The corresponding project is named ‘Ocean’.

Lufthansa has been driving it forward for months. In July, the Group revealed that Ocean is no longer just about long-haul but also about short-haul flights. Now the pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) is commenting: «Job advertisements have been posted, an AOC (Air Operator Certificate) is being applied for and the company has internally announced that it intends to operate three long-haul aircraft in spring 2021.»

Union expects losses for years to come

The internal blueprint for the project is Swiss’ sister airline Edelweiss. Frankfurt and Munich are planned as Ocean bases. From there, the new subsidiary wants to offer holiday flights to and from Germany. Vereinigung Cockpit is critical of the launch date next spring in the current market environment.

«The question is there as to why Lufthansa has to invest so much money in the middle of the biggest crisis since September 11 to compete with already troubled Condor and Tui in the tourism business», says Cockpit President Markus Wahl. He does not specify how much money is at stake.

Holiday trips recover faster than business trips

However, Wahl warns: «We expect start-up losses for years to come.» The pilots also complain that although Ocean routes are managed by the Group, Lufthansa is still asking employees to re-apply for the positions. «The employees are not considered to be set, but have to re-apply for new jobs on their own at significantly worse conditions and can only expect a temporary position», Wahl states. He calls for recruitment on collective bargaining terms.

While Vereinigung Cockpit speaks of an «unfortunate and questionable timing of the project», Lufthansa apparently considers the promotion of tourism plans to be particularly appropriate and necessary at the moment. Announcing the new Frankfurt routes, Executive Board member Hohmeister said: «This is our response to the wishes of our customers.» Regarding the Coronavirus crisis, he added: «The demand for holiday travel is recovering much faster than that for business travel.»

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