Air Berlin has been forced to cancel around 100 flights after an ‘exceptionally high’ number of its pilots called in sick on 10 days ago.
The airline, which filed for insolvency last month and is only still operating because of a German government bridging loan, said the apparent strike threatened its existence and hurt its chances of saving jobs.
The pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit, said it had not called the action – adding it was surprised that 200 pilots had failed to report for duty. Air Berlin, which is Germany’s second-largest carrier, said most of those off work were captains.
Air Berlin CEO Thomas Winkelmann claimed the move by nearly 200 pilots to call in sick at short notice was the “equivalent to playing with fire” and would cost the troubled airline “several million euros”.
The company had to cancel more than 100 flights out of a planned 750 10 days ago because of the walkout. This disrupted some 12,000 passengers the company said. This has the potential to unsettle any potential rescuers for Air Berlin, which filed for administration last month when it was given a €150m loan by the German government.