Very true. Although it is worthwhile noting that there are huge differences between European countries.
I made that experience recently when I was invited to speak at a conference in France and a recent Swiss popular vote about executive pay was brought up. I was asked to explain why the Swiss who tend to be economically liberal had - as the panel chair put it - "voted to cap the salaries of big bosses". It took a long time to explain to (the French part of) the audience that the vote was not about capping salaries and that extremely high compensation packages were still going to be happening in the future. What was voted was that shareholders have a say in executive compensation instead of just the board, in order to prevent boards packed with friends of management to do them a favour so that those managers who are on other boards return the favour. Also the vote wants to prevent that executives get big compensation packages when the company isn't doing well, or simply for accepting employment or as a golden parachute. The vote was an expression of Swiss mentality that there is nothing wrong with having or earning lots of money as long *as it is deserved*. In Switzerland, "justice" means that you get what you truly earn, not what some buddy on the board hands you as a personal favour. It is that Swiss notion of justice that was meant to be put in place.
The French had difficulties understanding this and many were disappointed because they had hoped that another country was going to serve as an example for capping executive pay. in France the culture is much more one where "justice" is comparing how much one has versus someone else. People get all excited about an executive making x times more than a clerk, and people get all excited about executives making large sums of money. Large sums of money are obscene in their own right, hardly is a look taken of whether the compensated is deserved or not. Therefore there also is a lot of talk of capping the highest compensation as a multiple of the lowest wage, with all being regulated by law. The idea of shareholders - who often are seen as evil capitalists exploiting poor workers - deciding how much they pay management and possibly approving big pay checks is unthinkable. Here "justice" is not as much merit driven but more jealousy driven, it is not "pay what you deserve" but "a certain amount of money is too much for you and why do you get more than someone else".
There is a similar movement in Switzerland where the Socialist Party wants to put in place legislation that the highest compensation cannot be more than 12 times the lowest, similar to what many people in France call for. It is however almost 100% certain that such a proposition will not be adopted by voters in Switzerland (in France they don't even get asked). Switzerland is fixing what economists call the "principal-agent-problem", France is trying to solve a moral problem.
There is obviously a lot more in the background in terms of culture, history (having the French revolution or the Swiss urge for freedom in your DNA
changes quite a number of things), how labour relations have developed over time, how careers develop, how people get trained, etc.
Lastly an interesting anecdote from Germany: there a couple of weeks ago the union leader at Volkswagen *defended* the high salary of the CEO and said he wouldn't have any problem for him to even take his full compensation pack. He said "I prefer paying EUR 16 million to the CEO of Volkswagen who generates several billions of profits and secures our jobs in the long run than to pay just a tenth of that to the CEO of Peugeot who generates losses and threatens the long terms prospects of the company and its employees". That statement shows that usually there usually isn't a big divide between employers and employees in Germany. Both sides understand that they need each other and that they need to get on with each other. Obviously there are often differences, even substantial ones, but it's rarely "us versus them".
Which is why the statement and tone by Lufthansa's CFO raise eyebrows for its divisive and confrontational nature. To many people in the US who are used and like jingoism and confrontational "straight talk" this may seem "soft". But that is because they omit to recognize that there are people and entire countries in Europe who are absolutely pro-business and pro-freedom and anti-big government, whilst nevertheless espousing a model of collective collaboration and collective responsibility. France may be more towards one end of the spectrum and - rightly or wrongly - is used as the example where a certain business model goes wrong. But Germany and even more so Switzerland are examples of countries where a variant of the European model actually works (and I am sure that there are other countries, except that I do not have as much insight/own experience/own cultural background as in these three).
Therefore: yes, Lufthansa needs to transform and lower personnel costs. But a statement like the one by Ms. Menne is foolish, unnecessary and in the end counterproductive.