Newspaper article International New York Times

Lufthansa Cancels Most Flights as Strike Nears ; Last-Ditch Talks to Avert Walkout by Pilots' Union Wednesday Have Failed

Newspaper article International New York Times

Lufthansa Cancels Most Flights as Strike Nears ; Last-Ditch Talks to Avert Walkout by Pilots' Union Wednesday Have Failed

Article excerpt

The German airline has canceled virtually all its operations for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday over a planned walkout by pilots.

The German flagship airline Lufthansa warned Monday that a strike planned by its largest pilots' union this week would probably be one of the most disruptive in its history, threatening to affect more than 425,000 passengers across its global network.

Last-ditch negotiations over the weekend between the airline and leaders of the union representing the majority of Lufthansa's 5,500 pilots, Vereinigung Cockpit, failed to resolve a protracted dispute over changes in pay and retirement benefits. The union has called for a walkout beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday and lasting until 11:59 p.m. Friday.

In a statement, the Frankfurt-based company said 3,800 passenger and cargo flights operated by Lufthansa and its low-cost Germanwings subsidiary -- almost 90 percent of regularly scheduled flights -- would be canceled over the strike period.

The airline said it had begun rebooking as many Lufthansa and Germanwings passengers as possible on other airlines, or trains for domestic German routes, an exercise that Lufthansa said would probably reduce its profit by "tens of millions of euros."

Additional staff will be added in the terminals of the airline's main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich to take care of passengers there, the airline said.

Pilots at the group's other European subsidiaries -- including Swiss International, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines -- are not participating in the strike. Lufthansa said that, where possible, it planned to transfer larger planes to those carriers for use on routes to and from Germany in order to accommodate rebooked passengers.

The planned strike follows several months of negotiations over pay and over benefits. …

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