By Simon Morgan
Lufthansa has won a temporary injunction against a pilots' strike, but the German airline says 1000 scheduled flights will nevertheless remain cancelled and 140,000 passengers grounded.
The appeals court in Frankfurt on Wednesday (local time) ordered pilots to halt their two-day industrial action, ruling that the stoppage, the 13th in 18 months, was unlawful.
It thus overturned a lower court ruling from Tuesday and agreed with Lufthansa that the primary aim of the pilots' union, Vereinigung Cockpit, did not appear to be to reach a concrete agreement on early retirement provisions, but to attack management's proposed restructuring concept, known as Wings.
Lufthansa has embarked on a massive reorganisation, farming out much of its domestic and medium-haul services to its low-cost subsidiary Germanwings.
The court argued that the Wings concept was an entrepreneurial matter.
"There are a number of factors that suggest that, above and beyond the strike's official target, the union is seeking to have a say in the 'Wings' concept. This is not a goal that can be negotiated by the union. Hence, the strike is unlawful," it ruled.
Ostensibly, the dispute hinges on Lufthansa plans to scrap an arrangement under which pilots can retire at 55 and receive up to 60 per cent of their pay until they reach the statutory retirement age of 65.
But pilots are also concerned about Lufthansa's wider aim to further develop its low-cost activities as it faces growing competition.
It is the first time in the 18-month dispute between management and unions that such an injunction has been granted.
Lufthansa welcomed Wednesday's (local time) ruling, but said it would not be able to return to normal operations until Thursday (local time).