As Friday’s deadline for interested bidders to takeover the now bankrupt Airberlin approaches, the struggling airline took a blow on Tuesday when 200 of its 1,500 pilots called in sick, forcing the cancellation of more than 100 domestic and international flights.
The move is being seen as an act of protest by the pilots who have been in an ongoing dispute with the company over the state of the jobs once the airline decides on a new owner.
“costing us several million euros”
Airberlin chief executive Thomas Winkelmann said on Tuesday that the pilots are “playing with fire” and that just this one day alone will now be “costing us several million euros.”
This instability is raising concerns over the value of the company, and as Winkelmann put it, “a stable operation is an essential precondition for successful negotiations. This is the only way we can protect as many jobs as possible.”
The perceived sabotage is also causing headaches for passengers who now find themselves stranded and the hope that things will return to normal in the next day or two are looking dim. Germany’s services sector union Verdi is siding with the “sick” pilots and stated that Airberlin should expect more to follow in the coming days.