Good jobs in the sky

Europe should set standards

The common EU aviation market is regarded as a successful project, one which considerably benefits passengers and airlines alike. However, with some airlines, this comes at the expense of their staff. The EU is called upon to define universally valid social standards and to champion them worldwide.

Lufthansa, Air France and half a dozen other airlines, together with trade unions, are calling for a Social Agenda for European Aviation. The partners adopted a corresponding position paper at the beginning of October.

Increasing competition but not at the expense of employees

The background to this is the fierce competition that is rife in aviation. The result is that those airlines that have an attractive range of offers and their costs under control are gaining market share. Problems arise when companies systematically rely on atypical employment models – such as bogus self-employment. Brussels and the single member states should take action against such business practices.

On their home market, EU airlines also have to compete with airlines that – from a European perspective – deny their employees important rights. For example, the UN Labour Organisation, the ILO, is taking action against a Gulf airline. Here the EU Commission can also take countermeasures by attaching special importance to workers’ rights in aviation agreements.

Lufthansa Group is shouldering responsibility

The Lufthansa Group employs 135,000 people worldwide, with more than 100,000 of them in Europe. 8,000 new employees were hired in 2018 alone. The company fulfils its responsibility despite being under great competitive pressure:

  • Social partnership: Employee participation is put into practice. For example, there are more than 1,000 works councils throughout the company as well as collectively appointed staff representative for flying personnel.

  • Pensions: Politicians sets great store in occupational pensions. Across Germany, 57% of employees are accruing an entitlement to such a pension. In this country, the Lufthansa Group offers different types of company pension plans to nearly 100% of its staff.

  • Training and further education worldwide: The Lufthansa Group is currently training more than 1,000 young people in 34 occupations and nine study programmes. In addition, the Lufthansa Group has selected 500 junior pilots in the current year and trained 4,000 new flight attendants.

“I am not against Ryanair or the low-cost model. But with great success comes great responsibility. The single market is not a jungle; rather it has clear rules regarding fair labour mobility and employee protection.”
(September 2018)

Marianne Thyssen

EU Social Commissioner

“The European aviation industry is the leader worldwide. It’s important that its companies are leaders on all fronts, including on social issues.”
(September 2018)

Violeta Bulc

EU Transport Commissioner



Further content on the topic



Position paper for a social agenda

Leading EU airlines such as Lufthansa and Air France take a stand together with major European trade unions European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and European Cockpit Association (ECA) in support of a social agenda in air traffic.

Retrieve position paper

Press release

Worker rights at Ryanair

Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen insists on compliance with EU law.

Visit website