A pilot union representing flight crew at Germanwings has called on its members to strike on February 12 and 13, 2015 resulting in significant disruption to the carrier’s operations.
The airline, part of the Lufthansa Group, has been forced to cancel a number of its domestic and European short-haul routes as a result of the walkout by the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union which has failed to reach an agreement on working contracts for its members with the Lufthansa Group.
To many people’s surprise, our Routes Trivia story on the fastest growing European low-cost carriers between summer 2013 and summer 2014 revealed Germanwings as the continent’s fastest growing airline by capacity with available seats rising 57.8 percent between the two schedule periods.
Lufthansa’s restructuring plan, which began in 2012 saw the airline shifting its short-haul flights to its Germanwings affiliate in order to effectively compete against European discount rivals.
The Lufthansa Group decided to transfer all of Lufthansa’s European point-to-point flying outside its main Frankfurt and Munich hub airports to lower-cost subsidiary Germanwings. Germanwings has taken over a total of 115 routes from Lufthansa in recent month, with 52 routes solely at Dusseldorf Airport. It is one of the biggest structural projects ever undertaken by the company, and has been completed to the timescale.
The new concept of Germanwings – a revolutionised low-cost carrier was introduced into the market in July 2013. A full subsidiary of Lufthansa, the airline flies from its ‘home’ airport in Cologne/Bonn as well as from Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Berlin-Tegel, Hanover and Hamburg to more than 110 destinations across Europe and beyond.
Therefore a walkout by Germanwings pilots will have a significant impact on flight operations in Germany and across Europe.
The VC pilots staged 10 strikes last year, affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers and wiping up to 200 million euros from 2014 operating profit at Lufthansa, which is under pressure to reduce costs to keep up with rivals.
The strike will affect departures across Germany, from 23:00 GMT on the night of Wednesday February 11 until 22:59 GMT on Friday, February 13, 2015.
As the chart highlights, capacity in both summer and winter from 2010 to 2014 has gradually increased, as Germanwings has taken over domestic and European routes from Lufthansa.
Summer capacity increased between 2013 and 2014, particularly in Dusseldorf and Hamburg where Germanwings took over domestic and European routes from Lufthansa. Compared to 2010, Germanwings operated no flights to or from Dusseldorf, which is now one of its strongest markets with a capacity of 1,072,651 in summer 2014. In 2010, Berlin Tegel and London Heathrow were not served by the airline, despite now having a capacity of 893,612 and 318,904 respectively.
The restructuring of the Lufthansa network means that Dussedorf has become the largest network point for Germanwings since 2013, having first launched flights to the German city in 2011.
Hamburg and Berlin have increasingly become more important points for the airline, adding to its historical operations from Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart and Hanover. Outside of Germany, London Heathrow is the airlines largest point, with a capacity of 316,271 in winter 2014, followed by Vienna (273,458), Zurich (182,414) and Milan (161,028)