Air Berlin cancels 100 flights after Vereinigung Cockpit pilots call in sick in wildcat strike

Air Berlin cancels 100 flights after Vereinigung Cockpit pilots call in sick in wildcat strike
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/12/bankrupt-air-berlin-cancel...

Bankrupt airline’s hubs at Düsseldorf and Tegel badly affected by apparent wildcat strike against possible redundancies
An Air Berlin plane at Düsseldorf airport
Air Berlin lost €782m last year and pilots fear they could be made redundant. Photograph: Roland Weihrauch/AFP/Getty Images
Philip Oltermannin Berlin
@philipoltermann
Tuesday 12 September 2017 08.01 EDTLast modified on Tuesday 12 September 2017 17.00 EDT

Air Berlin has been forced to cancel about 100 flights after an “unusually high number” of pilots called in sick, in what is believed to be a wildcat strike against possible redundancies at the bankrupt airline.

The carrier, which declared bankruptcy last month after years of losses, is negotiating the transfer of staff to a potential buyer. Bids for the airline must be submitted by Friday, with a decision on the sale expected as early as next week.

On its website, Air Berlin cited “operative reasons” for the cancellations on Tuesday, and asked passengers to call a helpline and refrain from travelling to the affected airports.

Because the carrier no longer offers compensation for cancelled flights, customer advice centres recommended that people affected by the strike book replacements at their own expense.

Berlin’s Tegel airport and Düsseldorf airport, Air Berlin’s hubs, were hit hard by the strike action, which also affects 42 planes run by Air Berlin on behalf of Eurowings and Austrian Airlines.

Spiegel Online said about 250 pilots called in sick on Tuesday morning. Air Berlin employs approximately 1,500 pilots.

Vereinigung Cockpit, a collective bargaining group for German pilots and flight engineers, has expressed concern that the airline is planning to offload its long-haul flights branch, which pays staff higher wages.

Air Berlin has already announced that it will cease to operate flights to the Caribbean and Boston from 25 September.

Air Berlin made a loss of €782m (£703m) in 2016. Last month, Etihad Airways, which owns almost 30% of Air Berlin, said the developments were “extremely disappointing”, but it could not keep injecting cash after investing an additional €250m in April.