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Lufthansa cancels flights amid efforts to end strike

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Lufthansa cancels flights amid efforts to end strike
Photo: DPA
15:23 CEST+02:00
Lufthansa on Thursday was forced to cancel 128 flights, but the German airline started preliminary talks with union officials aimed at ending the four day-long strike.

The airline said it would put a new contingency plan into effect for domestic German and European flights. Lufthansa spokesman Peter Schneckenleitner said the company would cancel Thursday flights on routes that have several connections a day, with the aim of combining many of them and rebooking the affected passengers.

However, at least 28 intercontinental flights are likely to fall prey to the strike, including connections from Frankfurt to New York, Washington, Boston, Shanghai and Bangkok. Two flights from Düsseldorf to Newark will also be grounded.

The airline expects a similar amount of flights - six percent of total connections - to be cancelled each day through this Monday.

Schneckenleitner, who said every tenth European flight could be cancelled in the coming days, directed passengers to the airline's new contingency plan on the company's website www.lufthansa.com.

Lufthansa employees went on strike on Monday in an ongoing wage dispute with the company. Trade union Verdi wants a 9.8 percent pay hike over a year for around 50,000 workers, while Lufthansa has offered 6.7 percent over 21 months. Verdi has estimated its action would cost Lufthansa €5 million ($7.8 million) a day, while the airline's financial director declined to cite a specific figure.

According to Verdi spokesman Harald Reutter, the tentative talks on Thursday with Verdi were to determine if there was enough common ground to restart proper wage negotiations. "Lufthansa came to us to take up informal talks," said Reutter.

But trade union officials also said they were not optimistic that a solution could be found any time soon.

Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber on Thursday appealed to employees in an open letter on Thursday not to harm the airline with the strike. "You can't secure the future by using a crowbar" to pry more cash out of the company, Mayrhuber wrote. "In my eyes this isn't a strike by Lufthansa employees against Lufthansa, it's a strike by Verdi with specific focal points in the company."

ddp/afp/dpa

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