Lufthansa subsidiary Brussels Airlines’ pilot union has called for strike action on May 14 and May 16, which is expected to create significant disruption to flight operations, the carrier confirmed to ATW

“These actions will affect over 60,000 passengers,” a spokesperson in Brussels said. On May 14, 278 flights were scheduled with 34,000 passengers; on May 16, 279 flights were booked with 29,000 passengers.

Brussels Airlines COO Thibault Demoulin called the strike “incomprehensible, since the company has submitted substantial offers to the cockpit union delegation.”

The Star Alliance member said pilots refused the carrier’s first proposal of a flexible benefit plan, which called for a 3% monthly gross salary increase as of Jan. 1, 2019 with an additional 3% in 2020 should there be no growth.

“The union delegation continues to propose the same 12 points, which represent a total increase in cost of 25% for the company. It would be irresponsible for the future of our company and its 3,900 employees to accept this,” Brussels Airlines CEO Christina Foerster said.

According to a report by German news agency dpa, the union also said one reason for the strike is insecure working conditions. Pilots are demanding clarity from Lufthansa about the airline’s future plans. “We called on management earlier this week to come up with a concrete proposal, but that did not happen during the meeting,” LBC-NVK union representative Paul Buekenhout said.

Lufthansa took full control of Brussels Airlines through its parent SN Airholding in late 2016 and replaced top management Feb. 5, as the group revamps the airline to be more closely integrated with Lufthansa Group’s Eurowings low-fare division.

“We are also worried about the process as our social partners announced a strike even before the new conciliation process [May 14] has started,” Foerster said, adding, that it goes without saying that Brussels Airlines remains open for transparent and constructive dialogue “as we continue aiming at a solution that on the one hand responds to the concerns of our pilots and on the other hand doesn’t put the future of our company at stake.”

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at