The German Federal Labour Court has ruled that cabin crew of the insolvent Air Berlin were not entitled to compensation for the loss of their jobs.
Even two years after Air Berlin's insolvency its liquidation is still occupying the courts with no prospect of an end in the near future. While the insolvency administrator's claim for damages against the former shareholder Etihad in the amount of EUR 2 billion is currently before the Court of Appeal in London, the German labour courts are busy with the fallout from employment relationships. In a recent ruling, the Federal Labour Court ('FLC') had to decide on the compensation claims of former flight attendants. It confirmed the previous instances in which claims were dismissed.
After filing for bankruptcy in August 2017 and suspending flight operations on 27 October 2017, the airline's insolvency administrator not only had to deal with almost EUR five billion in liabilities, but also terminate thousands of employment contracts. At the heyday of what was once Germany's second-largest airline, Air Berlin employed over 8,000 people. At the time of writing, only just under 30 are still helping the insolvency administrator to wind up the company. The fact that such downsizing measures have not been achieved without friction is clear from the many court cases that have occupied the German labour courts in the wake of the Air Berlin insolvency. Now these have also reached the FLC. On three dates in January and February 2020, 17 proceedings alone are pending for decision in Erfurt. The first four proceedings were concluded with the decision of the First Senate of the FLC on 21 January 2020.
Background to the 21 January 2020 decision
The 21 January 2020 decision (1 AZR 149/19 and 1 AZR 295/19 among others, so far only available as a press release) dealt with a claim for compensation for the plaintiff flight attendants' job loss under the collective agreement concluded with ver.di Personnel Representation ('TVPV').
For Air Berlin's cabin staff, a Cabin Staff Committee was established on the basis of the TVPV, comparable to a works council for flight attendants. The TVPV provides for participation rights for the Staff Committee, modelled on the Works Constitution Act. According to its provisions, employees are to be paid compensation for their job loss if a planned change in operations is carried out without having previously attempted to negotiate a so-called 'reconciliation of interests'...