File: Germany's powerful Verdi union said 71 percent of members had accepted the deal, calling it a "vote of solidarity among Lufthansa employees". AFP/Silas Stein
BERLIN - European airline giant Lufthansa said it has placed 87,000 workers -- more than 60 percent of its workforce -- on government-backed shorter hours schemes, as air travel idles amid the coronavirus crisis.
Among the group's 135,000 employees, cabin crew, ground crew and for the first time ever pilots are all affected by the measure, a spokesman told AFP.
Some 62,000 of the employees affected are in Germany, doubling the number given on Friday of those who would work shorter hours until September.
In addition to the flagship German brand Lufthansa and low-cost arm Eurowings, the group includes smaller carriers such as Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Swiss.
Around 700 of Lufthansa's 763 aircraft are parked following huge reductions in its flight operations, and its seat capacity is just five percent of its usual schedule.
The group said the cutoff date for the unprecedented reductions in its flight plan would be extended from April 19 to at least May 3.
Chief executive Carsten Spohr last month warned that "the longer this crisis lasts, the more likely it is that the future of aviation cannot be guaranteed without state aid."
The group's flight plan has been slashed to levels not seen since the 1950s, Spohr said.
Around the world, the International Air Transport Association has said up to $200-billion might be needed to rescue airlines.