* Eurowings says can grow quickly in all units now
* Previous deal had been blocked by pilots’ union VC
* Eurowings fleet to expand by 30 planes by summer (Adds details, union comment)
BERLIN, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Eurowings has reached a deal with German unions representing pilots on hiring staff, the Lufthansa subsidiary said on Wednesday, after union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) blocked an earlier agreement.
Airlines across Europe are taking on crews to fly additional planes and gain market share after this year’s collapse of Air Berlin and Monarch.
“This means we can grow at short notice in all units of Eurowings,” Managing Director Joerg Beissel said in a statement.
Under a previous deal with the VC union, Eurowings’ German unit was restricted to a fleet of 23 planes unless a new collective agreement was reached. Lufthansa has expanded the business mainly via Eurowings’ Austrian unit, for which there is no collective deal yet in place.
However, eyeing the gap left in the market by Air Berlin, Eurowings was seeking a new collective deal to allow it to take on new staff quickly in Germany.
A tentative deal last month was blocked by the VC pilots union, who wanted better conditions.
However, services union Verdi reached an agreement for the pilots it represents, putting pressure on VC to sign a deal too.
The new agreement means the entire Eurowings fleet can add 30 planes by the summer at locations across Germany, Austria and Spain.
Overall, Lufthansa has said it plans to expand Eurowings by around 60 planes and take on 3,000 new staff as a result of Air Berlin’s collapse.
Eurowings said it has taken on 500 new staff in the last few weeks, including from Air Berlin.
Under the new deal, crews from rival carriers will have previous experience taken into account when starting at Eurowings, while first officers at the German unit will also get the chance to move up to captain, the carrier said in a statement.
Existing staff will also get a one-off payment for 2017, improved retirement provisions and job guarantees until June 30 2021.
In addition, Eurowings said all existing collective labour agreements for Eurowings Germany cockpit staff represented by Verdi are now valid until June 30, 2021, as well.
VC said it had hoped for a better result, but that because Verdi agreed a deal first, it had hurt the position of the pilots. “But we hope this is a good base to work from,” a VC spokesman said.
Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by Ludwig Burger and Jason Neely