General Industry

Lufthansa Pays Cabin Crew to Work Days Off as Sick Rate Climbs

By Publications Checkout
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Deutsche Lufthansa has implemented a 70 per cent increase in the cash inducement for cabin crew to forgo time off and cover for colleagues after a surge in the number of staff on sick leave.

Lufthansa is offering flights attendants and pursers €110 per flight to work on days off, up from €65 previously, the company said in a letter to employees dated 7 August. It’s also suspending most training and ground activities to maximise the number of flying personnel.

"Despite higher reserves we note that the numbers of sick notes again rose noticeably from last year,” Wolfgang Kohlhagen and Michael Knauf, who manage crew in Frankfurt and Munich, said in the letter, obtained by Bloomberg. “Especially on the weekends sick rates rise sharply to again clearly come down on Mondays, making it almost impossible to fill open positions.”

Lufthansa spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf said sick rates are “elevated,” while declining to comment further. Nicoley Baublies, a spokesman for the Ufo flight-attendants union, said the pattern of illness reflects the strains on staff as they’re asked to work to tighter schedules, adding that it could also indicate rising absenteeism as the airline continues its campaign to pare staff benefits and boost productivity.

Talks on cabin-crew contracts have been extended through November, Lufthansa said Sunday, though Ufo retains the right to activate strikes put on hold over the summer vacation period. The sick rate is going “from record to record” as a result of uncertainty about the future, the union has said.

Lufthansa’s Austrian unit said two weeks ago it was leasing a second aircraft and crew from Estonian Air after the level of sick notices from pilots caused cancellations. The situation was bound to escalate due to the “dramatic personnel situation,” an Austrian labor union said last month.

News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland

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