The German carrier, which operated 42 flights per week to India prior to lockdown, now operates 10 services per week under an air travel bubble. The flight attendants in India were put on two years leave without pay, but the airline finally decided to lay them off as it was unable to negotiate a settlement with them. The airline has retained 32 permanent crew members in India, it is learnt.
Affected crew members termed the sacking unfair and plan to protest against it in Delhi on Friday. "The crew were put on two years leave without pay due to Covid-19. All that we were asking was an assurance that staff will be retained on completion of two years and there will be no termination. But the airline was unwilling to give an assurance. They terminated us without notice. No such terminations have happened in Germany," said one of the affected crew member.
Lufthansa, in a statement, said its restructuring is not restricted to a single market. " Given our current cash burn of several hundred million euros every month, Lufthansa- like all airlines worldwide - must take steps to secure its future. Since we must plan with 150 fewer aircraft in the long run (by 2025) it follows that required cabin staff in all our markets is also affected. Even now, low demand for international air travel resulting particularly from government restrictions leaves cabin staff with little or no work," the airline said in a statement.
"We had signed an agreement with the Indian union providing for two years of unpaid leave with Lufthansa continuing to provide the local health insurance even for enrolled family members. Unfortunately consent to the agreement was revoked by the union on December 31. Indian cabin crew with unlimited contracts are not affected as Lufthansa was able to reach individual agreements with these flight attendants," it said.