It has been over a week since the crash of Germanwings passenger jet and the Lufthansa management has not been blamed equally for this disaster. One of world’s most trusted and reputed names in the aviation industry; Lufthansa German Airlines has completed 60 years of providing services and connectivity to different parts of the world. It was reborn after World War 2 and has come a long way from being a patron of Luftwaffe, the Nazi German Air Force. Just two years ago, Lufthansa was judged world’s top ranked airline out of a list of highly sophisticated and classy global airline service providers.
A person who has travelled on a Lufthansa flight would definitely vouch for the scheduling, services, arrival, departure, airport staff, pilots, crew members, food, comfort and the entire experience of travelling in a world-class airline service. From one’s booking confirmation to the arrival at one’s destination, Lufthansa employees are some of the most courteous and soft-spoken people one would enjoy interacting with anywhere in the world.
The reason for discussing Lufthansa in such detail is because one of its flights operated by Germanwings crashed last week, March 24. It is one of the subsidiaries of Lufthansa and a low-cost carrier. As expected, the corporate and PR lobby swung into action to tie-up any loose ends that could embarrass or disturb the Lufthansa management and their corporate set-up. This was the case even before the two black boxes were recovered or the list of the passengers could be confirmed. The immediate response from the management was to look for a culprit who caused the crash. They did not bother to wait and listen to the eyewitness accounts or try to confirm that it was not a technical glitch in the passenger jet’s engine.
One of the most important issues that has not been reported as clearly in the global media is the fact that the pilots, crew, and other staff of Lufthansa have been in a constant state of conflict with the airline’s management. The pilots union has been on strike over the last one year numerous times. The issue is the avarice of Lufthansa corporate business heads. They have stopped the practice of providing pension benefits for the new pilots after they retire. This includes most of the current pilots along with the new joiners and other crew members of Lufthansa. It is a well-known fact that retirement insecurities are the biggest cause of concern for every working individual in the 21st century. Apart from this, the work pressure and continuous travelling for long hours adds to the toll on a person’s psyche. All this put together could have definitely added to an employee’s depression and made him reach his tipping point.
Just a week before the Germanwings disaster, Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa’s CEO, was heard boasting about the pilots of the airline as being the best in the world. After the crash, Spohr had mentioned repeatedly that Lubitz was absolutely 100 percent fit to fly. Later, a spokesperson mentioned that there was an incident of severe depression reported by Lubitz himself as far back as 2009. Now, the company has admitted that they knew about his mental health issues. If one can read between the lines, it is obvious that the Lufthansa management does not want to appear to be lying in global media.
(This is Part 1. Please continue onto Part 2)
By Ankur Sinha
Photo by uwe_gompf_66 – Flickr License