Lufthansa has terminated the services of 103 India-based flight attendants after they allegedly sought “job assurance” from the management while the German airlines group had offered them leave without pay option for two years, sources close to the developments said. These employees had been working on a fixed-term contract with the airline and some of them were with the carrier for more than 15 years, the sources added.

In a statement to PTI, a Lufthansa spokesperson said that severe financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic leaves it with no choice but to restructure the airline and as part of that “it will not be extending the fixed-term employment contracts of its Delhi-based flight attendants”.

However, Lufthansa did not provide details on the number of flight attendants who have been terminated.

According to the spokesperson, Indian cabin crew with unlimited contracts remain unaffected from restructuring as it “was able to reach individual agreements with these flight attendants”.

“Lufthansa regrets to confirm that it will not be extending the fixed-term employment contracts of its Delhi-based flight attendants. The severe financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic leaves Lufthansa no choice but to restructure the airline. This includes personnel-related measures in Germany and Europe as well as in key international markets like India,” the statement said.

“Given our current cash burn of several hundred million euros every month, Lufthansa — like all airlines worldwide — must take steps to secure its future,” it said, adding that “since we must plan with 150 fewer aircraft in the long run (by 2025) it follows that required cabin staff in all our markets is also affected.”

Even now, the statement said that low demand for international air travel resulting particularly from government restrictions leaves cabin staff with little or no work left to do.

“We exhausted every possible option and had even already reached an agreement with the Indian union we were in close consultation at all times. It would have avoided compulsory redundancies for our cabin staff.

“We had signed an agreement with the Indian union providing for two years of unpaid leave, with Lufthansa continuing to provide the local health insurance — even for enrolled family members,” the statement said.

Further, Lufthansa said it was willing to “absorb” all associated premiums during this period but “unfortunately, consent to the agreement was revoked by the union on December 31.

The sources, however, alleged that Lufthansa terminated the services of 103 Delhi-based flight attendants on fixed-term contracts overnight, without serving any prior notice to them, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

“These terminations happened overnight without giving any prior notice. Some of these terminated people had been employed for nearly 15 years… The management had wanted us to proceed on leave without pay for two years. We had agreed for it but wanted job assurance after the completion of the LWP period,” as per the sources.

According to Lufthansa’s statement, not being able to reach an agreement for cabin crew with fixed-term employment contracts has forced it to take this step as part of an inevitable restructuring of Lufthansa group.

“It should be noted that this restructuring is not limited to India but affects all our worldwide markets and to a great extent includes our home markets, especially Germany. However, there we were able to reach initial agreements with unions to help weather the crisis,” the statement said.