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Lufthansa drops flights as airport workers plan strike Wednesday

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Deutsche Lufthansa AG scrapped 852 flights this week because of a strike by German airport workers on Wednesday that will hobble operations in Frankfurt and Munich.

[FRANKFURT] Deutsche Lufthansa AG scrapped 852 flights this week because of a strike by German airport workers on Wednesday that will hobble operations in Frankfurt and Munich.

While most long-haul services will be operated out of Frankfurt, most German flights and "numerous" European services will be dropped Wednesday, Lufthansa said late Monday in a statement. At Munich, all the German airline's intercontinental services will be cancelled, and only about 90 flights to German or other European destinations will be offered. To prepare for the strike, Lufthansa also cancelled 30 flights on Tuesday.

The Ver.di labour union is organizing walkouts of as long as a day at six airports on Wednesday as part of a wider pay dispute involving German federal and local government workers. Other airports affected by the strike include Dusseldorf, Cologne/Bonn, Dortmund and Hanover, with stoppages planned by check-in, security and fire-service employees. The next round of talks with authorities is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the labour group said Monday.

Lufthansa customers affected will be able to rebook free of charge, and those on intra-German routes can use Deutsche Bahn trains instead, the airline said.

"The strike confirms once again the urgent need for certain 'rules of play' on industrial action in aviation," Bettina Volkens, head of personnel at Lufthansa, said in the statement. She called for binding mediation or conciliation procedures before such strikes can proceed.

The flight cancellations are another setback for Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr, who is having his own struggles trying to win cost concessions from pilots and cabin crews. Both groups of Lufthansa workers held strikes in the past year that cut 500 million euros (S$468 million) from operating profit. Lufthansa made its latest offer to pilots last week.

BLOOMBERG