Lufthansa Has 1100 Surplus Pilots

Lufthansa has a surplus of around 1100 pilots according to its Q3 results. This comes as the airline has already parted ways with approximately 14,000 employees. The airline has cut costs by about €900 million through the employees who have already left the business.

Lufthansa, Pilot Surplus, Q3 results
Lufthansa has roughly 1,100 too many pilots right now. Photo: Oliver Rösler via Lufthansa

Around the world, airlines are being forced to rightsize their employee levels. The current pandemic has meant that fewer passengers are flying. In turn, fewer flights are necessary to transport these passengers. If the airline is running fewer flights, two things happen. Firstly, fewer employees are needed to run the flights, but also, less money is coming into an airline to pay staff.

What’s the situation at Lufthansa?

Lufthansa has found itself with thousands too many staff members as it looks to survive the COVID-19 crisis. The airline has had to ground and even retire many planes as it waits for travel to return to pre-covid levels, possibly sometime in 2023-24. Indeed, in June, Simple Flying reported that the airline had 26,000 members of staff too many, equating to 22,000 roles.

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Today Lufthansa presented its Q3 results. These showed many things, such as the fact that the airline assumes its eight remaining Airbus A380 aircraft will be retired before returning to service.

Lufthansa Has 1100 Surplus Pilots
Lufthansa is eying the retirement of its remaining eight Airbus A380s. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

So far, Lufthansa has reduced 20% of its top management positions. The airline agreed with the UFO cabin crew union to save jobs, and half a billion euros, earlier this year. However, the airline has started the formal process to plan staff reductions of 2,800 ground staff and 1,100 cockpit crew. This doesn’t mean that the airline will make this number of staff redundant, but it is pursuing the legal process required.

Explaining this process, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told today’s analysts call,

“I think it’s important, especially for those of you not from Germany, to understand that in Germany, we have a two-tier system. First, you talk to the unions, about cost lowering costs, allowing part-time models, and all these things. And then you also talk to the worker’s councils, about forced leaves. The less we reach agreements with the unions on the first element, the more people will be forced out by the second module.”

Lufthansa, Pilot Surplus, Q3 results
The comments were made by Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr during today’s earnings call. Photo: Oliver Rösler via Lufthansa

What will the coming months look like?

Spohr mentioned that the processes mentioned above take time, and staff likely won’t leave the airline via them until mid-2021 at the earliest. The airline had seen its market capacity recover by 50% in August, like other European airlines. However, Europe is currently suffering from the second COVID-19 wave, meaning a resurgence in travel restrictions. Things are likely to worsen for the airline once more before they begin to get better.

What do you make of Lufthansa’s employee surplus? Let us know what you think in the comments!