Airberlin Pilots Call In Sick En Masse

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Many Airberlin passengers were in for a surprise today as if there wasn’t enough to worry about already with the on-going bankruptcy process.

AB Cancellation

Apparently, more than 200 pilots had called in sick this morning and roughly 100 flights were canceled by afternoon. Pilots were protesting how transfer of staff from Airberlin to several new owners would be handled during the bankruptcy process.

Airberlin may have to cease all operation according to Bloomberg (access the entire piece here):

“What happened today massively jeopardizes the entire insolvency proceedings,” Frank Kebekus, the airline’s general representative appointed by a court, said in a statement Tuesday. “Unless the situation changes in the short term, we will have to end operations and all efforts to reorganize.”

Air Berlin canceled some 100 flights after about 200 of its 1,500 pilots said they were unfit to fly, with many notifying their employer just before their scheduled departures. Air Berlin said that behavior resembled “playing with fire” and cost the airline several million euros.

Here’s an excerpt from Deutsche Welle (access the entire piece here):

Passengers were urgently requested to check on the airline’s website to see whether or not their flight would depart according to schedule, Air Berlin said in a statement.

Oliver Iffert, head of Air Berlin flight operations, said in a message to staff: “This is a day when the existence of Air Berlin is threatened.”

German mass-selling tabloid Bild reported that the alleged reason for the pilots’ sickness-related absence was a “revolt.”  Bild said that pilots may have resorted to the tactic because of job fears following a takeover of the insolvent airline by a new owner.

Conclusion

The reason behind the cancellation of the Caribbean routes that was announced yesterday was the repatriation of the aircraft by the lessor.

I would be very worried if I was to fly airberlin before the airline is basically shut down and sold. It would seem that some parts will end up with Lufthansa while the rest will go to Condor and perhaps to EasyJet. We should know in less than two weeks time.

I am not sure why pilots are so worked up though? They may end up losing salary for a couple of weeks but their skills are highly sought after whether they work for airberlin or for some other airline. They will be employed again in no time.

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