The FINANCIAL — German airline Lufthansa is asking a court to halt a strike by more than 4,000 of its pilots that canceled 800 flights on February 22.
Company spokeswoman Claudia Lange said the air carrier has filed a request for a temporary injunction against the pilot strike earlier Monday, The Wall Street Journal reports. She said the company regards the strike action as "disproportionate."
"We're hoping for a decision on the request within the next 24 hours," she added. The request for the temporary injunction was filed to a labor court in Frankfurt, which confirmed the case will be heard at 5:30 p.m. GMT Monday, according to the same source.
The move came on the first day of a planned four-day walkout by pilots in the Cockpit union over job security. The action could be extended, a union official said, Canadian Business reports. "The four days apparently are not enough to get Lufthansa going to find a solution with us at the negotiating table," Cockpit spokesman Alexander Gerhard-Madjidi told Bayerischer Rundfunk Radio Monday.
"Of course, we won't end this escalation after those four days, that means we are going to prepare further strike measures and they are going to be expanded in length and duration," he said, according to the same source. Europe's biggest airline by sales said many long-haul flights to the U.S., including New York and Denver, were canceled because of the strike organized by the Cockpit pilots' union. However, it said it was still running many domestic flights and short-haul routes across Europe. Other flights to the U.S., including Newark, New Jersey, Dallas and Chicago were scheduled Monday, as were flights to destinations in Africa, South America and Asia. Lufthansa typically has 1,800 flights a day.
The airline, Germany's largest, estimated the strike could cost it some C25 million ($34 million) per day, AP reports. Pilots for Lufthansa Cargo and the low-budget subsidiary, Germanwings, are also taking part in the strike.
Lufthansa said it was trying to rebook travellers on partner airlines or trains. Travellers unable to be rescheduled are being reimbursed for their tickets, it said, according to the same source. "They're giving us the service and support to get us where we need to go," said Shane Parkinson, who was flying from Germany to Sicily, whose original flight from Frankfurt was scrapped. "They wouldn't upgrade us to business class but it could have been worse."
Over the weekend, German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer urged both sides to restart talks and head off a strike after negotiations fell apart on Friday, but to little avail, The Wall Street Journal reports. The pilot union, Vereinigung Cockpit, said Saturday that it was ready to resume talks but wouldn't drop specific demands. Lufthansa said in a statement Sunday that it is open to talks with the pilot union but without preconditions.
The strike is expected to disrupt travel for thousands of passengers, though Lufthansa has been rebooking many of them on other airlines' flights, as well as trains, in anticipation, according to the same source. The action also is expected to affect Lufthansa's cargo operations and its discount-airline unit Germanwings.