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Lufthansa pilots start first of two strike days

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 14:47
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Lufthansa pilots started the first of two days of strike action at the German carrier on Wednesday in an attempt to bring an end to a row over early retirement benefits that has been running for two years.

[BERLIN] Lufthansa pilots started the first of two days of strike action at the German carrier on Wednesday in an attempt to bring an end to a row over early retirement benefits that has been running for two years.

The Wednesday's strike, affecting short- and medium-haul flights at the carrier's namesake brand, is the second this year and the twelfth in total in a row over early retirement benefits and low-cost expansion at the airline.

Ahead of that strike starting, pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) announced another walkout for Thursday, on long-haul and cargo flights, a move which Lufthansa said was incomprehensible. "Instead of working on a sustainable solution for the future, VC is hurting our customers across the globe," Lufthansa said late on Tuesday after the second strike was called.

Lufthansa wants to cut costs and expand budget operations but its efforts to renegotiate different conditions for collective labour agreements have met with resistance from pilots.

Lufthansa has refused to back down, saying it will grow fleet and staff numbers at its main passenger operations only if employees agree to concessions.

The pilots want Lufthansa to agree to mediation covering early retirement benefits and other outstanding pay and cost-cutting issues, but Lufthansa has rejected this.

Lufthansa has cancelled 750 flights out of a scheduled 1,400 on Wednesday and is due to announce plans for Thursday during the course of the day.

Flights at Lufthansa brands Germanwings, Eurowings, Air Dolomiti, Swiss and Austrian are unaffected by the planned strikes.

REUTERS