Lufthansa is planning reduce staffing levels on its A330 aircraft by one crew member next year.
The move, should it proceed, is not expected until winter 2019, but it will affect all Lufthansa’s A330s operating at Frankfurt and Munich.
What Lufthansa is doing is nothing new. Other carriers have been quietly tinkering with elements of their cabin service in recent years to cut costs.
In a statement provided to Business Traveller, Lufthansa says “it is considering a further development of the Purser’s role.”
The carrier talks about “partial service integration as an important building block in the future-orientated positioning of the cabin.”
Lufthansa says a similar situation has existed on its A340-300 fleet since 2014 which has been “partially service integrated.”
The airline stresses that staffing levels will still exceed the legal minimum.
This “airline speak” makes it all none the wiser as to how the onboard service will change or which cabins will be affected.
In Germany this possible move by Lufthansa has been criticised (no criticism in the UK so far because Business Traveller is first to break the news to you).
Aerotelegraph.com says “Lufthansa caused a stir when it announced it would use fewer flight attendants on certain long-haul flights in the future. The [cabin staff] union called for restraint. Even a strike has not been ruled out.”
As I noted above Lufthansa is not alone. Last year KLM’s cabin crew union called for strike action in response to a reduction in staff numbers, according to a Flight Global report.
Thankfully the issue was resolved. Hence KLM announced last June it was introducing a new efficient economy class service, made possible by “a new collective labour agreement for our cabin crew whereby one less crew member will be assigned on many intercontinental flights.
And this February will see US carrier United cutting the number of cabin staff on certain international services.
But this time it will impact on service levels in the carrier’s new Polaris business class which is United’s top product seeing as it no longer offers first class.
In a staff memo John Slater United’s senior VP inflight services said:
“Starting February 1, 2019, we will begin replacing galleys and our catering team will plate entrees ahead of time, further speeding up the meal service and eliminating the need for the mid-galley position on certain international wide-body flights.”
“This decision was made after months of effort during which we listened to our customers.”
Surely though no airline would wish to cut standards in its premium cabin where customers are paying so much more for their tickets.