In pre-pandemic times, it used to have 56 weekly flights between its German hubs of Frankfurt and Munich and four Indian metros — a number that is now down to 10.
Lufthansa had about 140 cabin crew based in India to be rostered on these flights. Some of the laid off employees are planning a protest at Delhi Airport’s Aerocity on Friday.
After India suspended scheduled international flights last March, airlines — both India and foreign — are allowed to operate on air bubble routes. Indian carriers operate Vande Bharat Mission flights.
“Lufthansa has terminated the services of its 103 Indian flight attendants on fixed term contracts based in Delhi overnight citing Covid Pandemic as the reason. No such terminations have happened in Germany or worldwide till date. Lufthansa was granted state aid by the German Government in June 2020. These terminations happened overnight without giving any prior notice. Some of these terminated people had been employed for nearly 15 years,” said one of the affected employees.
Comments have been sought from Lufthansa and are awaited. Airlines globally have been hit hard by Covid restrictions on travel and many of them are struggling to survive by taking all possible cost-cutting measures.
India had formed an air bubble with Germany last July. In the initial days of this arrangement, Lufthansa was operating 20 flights a week while Indian carriers were having 3-4 flights a week to Germany. India had objected to this disparity in numbers.
As a result of this disagreement over the disparity, Lufthansa had cancelled all its planned India flights between September 30 and October 20, 2020.
After this Germany had withdrawn permission for AI to operate flights to Frankfurt in the first half of October, 2020.
Later an agreement was reached in October between India and Germany under which Lufthansa was to operate 10 weekly flights to India and Air India seven flights to Germany.