Flight attendants at German airline Lufthansa say the disruptions and operational meltdowns affecting Europe’s aviation industry have caused them to suffer “extreme difficulties” with their mental health.
Staff representatives last week called on Lufthansa to reverse its “cost-cutting madness” and blamed many of the airline’s current problems, including chronic staff shortages, on poor management at most. high level.
On Thursday, Lufthansa confirmed it was canceling an additional 900 short-haul flights from its Frankfurt and Munich hubs in July alone due to the ongoing staffing crisis.
Last month, chief executive Carsten Spohr apologized to staff in an internal memo, admitting the airline had gone “too far” with its cost-cutting. Spohr, however, framed Lufthansa’s mistakes in the face of the pressure it felt to stem massive losses at the height of the pandemic.
But flight attendants represented by the UFO union say the impact of that cost-cutting is now having a real impact on the mental health of its members.
The list of complaints is long and the relentless pressure is starting to take its toll. A major concern is that delayed and disrupted passengers are increasingly taking their frustrations out on frontline staff, sometimes including physical attacks.
Lufthansa chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley said he was aware of reports of assaults on passengers and that staff felt “desperation and tears” because of the pressure they were under .
“I haven’t seen such an accumulation of problems in my career,” Kley told employees in a recent internal memo.
But flight attendants say many of the airline’s policies that address these issues also impact their mental health. The staffing crisis means Lufthansa is operating flights with fewer crews, and officials are asking flight attendants to take on additional responsibilities without training.
The rosters consist mostly of standby days which can cause additional stress and anxiety as flight attendants have little control over their work/life balance. Lufthansa, like many airlines, uses availability services much more than before the pandemic, because schedules change so quickly and at short notice.
“We say this clearly – Mental health demands are greatly increased by summer operations,” the flight attendants’ union, which also represents Eurowings and Condor crew, said last week.
The problems are far from unique to Lufthansa. Air France flight attendants have recently criticized their employer for increasingly difficult working conditions, as pressure begins to mount on more and more airlines.
The sudden upturn in passenger demand, coupled with perceived poor wages and working conditions, has created a wave of industrial unrest in Europe’s aviation sector.
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