Preparing for the Lufthansa pilots’ strike next week

Lufthansa and other German carriers face significant flight disruptions starting next week thanks to a strike call by the German pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) in a four-day walkout from 22 to 25 February.

Lufthansa is taking proactive action to minimise impact of flight disruptions on passengers. Passengers from India are advised to call the telephone hotline 1 800 102 5838 or visit the Lufthansa website.

Lufthansa Director South Asia Axel Hilgers told Bangalore Aviation the airline is taking proactive action to minimise disruption. From India, Lufthansa is already trying to obtain seats from not just its partner airlines, Austrian, Swiss, Air India, and Continental, but also from competitor airlines, as a precautionary move.

“Our first duty is to take inconvenience away from our passengers, even if it costs us now. Hopefully our passengers will remember us on a future travel date” “We will take care of passengers even with restricted tickets”

However, Bangalore Aviation suggests passengers to be realistic. Lufthansa operates two flights a day out of Mumbai and Delhi i.e. 600 passengers each city. Bangalore is 350. Chennai and Hyderabad 250, Pune 120. This is still peak travel season and other airlines will have at best 20~30 seats spare per flight. Bottom line — there is simply not enough spare capacity ex-India on other airlines to handle all the passengers of a cancelled Lufthansa flight.

Discussions with other sources in the travel and airline industry indicate Lufthansa will operate its long distance inter-continental flights. Flight disruptions, if any, can be expected in the short-haul and domestic network. Passengers travelling to the United States do not face much risk of cancellation, but passengers to Europe, especially Germany do. Passengers travelling within Germany can switch to a rail journey with Deutsche Bahn, if their domestic flights have to be cancelled. For that purpose, customers can exchange their electronic ticket (etix) for a rail travel voucher at a Lufthansa automatic check-in terminal. Alternatively, customers can buy a train ticket for the route for which their flight ticket was valid. This train ticket can then be submitted along with the flight ticket to Lufthansa for a refund.

The pilots’ strike is scheduled to commence only on Monday, so all flight ex-India departing till Monday morning will not be impacted. Bangalore Aviation recommends passengers who are scheduled to fly on Lufthansa to a European destination, from Tuesday 22 February till Friday 26 February should contact the airline.

If you can delay your travel by a week, please do so. In our humble opinion, it will be good de-risking.

Passengers booked on a Lufthansa flight in the period from 22~25 February can rebook once free of charge to another Lufthansa flight, if they wish to change their travel plans – provided their ticket was issued before 18th February, the new travel date is before 31st March 2010 and no change is made in their departure and arrival destination.

Should the purpose of a journey become null and void because of a flight cancellation, passengers can cancel their flight booking free of charge.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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