The boss of Lufthansa has outlined his desire to make the carrier “fit for growth” again following two years of industrial action.
The group has endured a series of damaging strikes, including one that lasted a week and forced thousands of flights to be cancelled, as it attempts to cut costs.
The company wants to expand its budget arm, Eurowings, which is taking over some long-haul routes, as well as developing its European network.
Strikes have cost the airline more than $500 million over the past two years. But group chief executive, Carsten Spohr, thinks it has been a necessary sacrifice.
He told the BBC: “Some of the structures we have at Lufthansa are from the days of state ownership. So these 30 or 40 year-old structures are just not fitting us for the future.
“There’s resistance, obviously. Is this a perfect time to overcome such resistance, when we’re making record profits? No.
“But I think we’ve waited too long already, so I think it’s now time to make Lufthansa fit for growth again.
“If we don’t take the pain now, the pain is just getting bigger and it has to be taken sometime in the future. So it doesn’t pay off to defer it.”
Spohr believs an agreement can be reached. “I know my staff love their company as much as I do”, he said. “I’m sure there’s a joint interest, we just haven’t managed to find the right compromise yet. I’m very positive we will.”
He was speaking ahead of the first anniversary of the crash of Germanwings flight 9525.
The aircraft crashed into a mountainside in southern France last March killing all 150 passengers and crew on board.
Investigations showed that the aircraft had been brought down deliberately by its co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz. It later emerged that he had suffered from severe depression in the past.
Lufthansa faced criticism for allowing Lubitz to fly in the wake of the accident.
However, Mr Spohr – a qualified airline pilot – said that even with the benefit of hindsight, he does not believe the company did anything wrong.
“I think we’ve seen in this very tragic accident, one of the few examples in our industry where no significant change of procedures, of engineering came from what we learned, which makes it even more tragic in a way”, he said.
“We have looked with government bodies into cockpit access procedures, into medical screening of pilots, and basically we found that Lufthansa has been doing it right.
“Our pilots are a very important part of our safety network, they are not a threat to safety – they are guaranteeing safety in aviation.
“It’s our promise to any victim in any accident that we put all our effort as an industry into making flying ever safer.”
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