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Pilots' union threatens renewed strikes at Lufthansa
[FRANKFURT] Pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) threatened renewed strike action at Lufthansa, saying the German flag carrier had rejected its offer of concessions in a long-running dispute that has cost the airline hundreds of millions of euros.
Walkouts could start any time and could hit Lufthansa, its cargo arm Lufthansa Cargo and its budget carrier Germanwings, VC said in a statement on Wednesday.
Lufthansa denied it had turned down the offer and said it regretted that VC had declared the negotiations a failure.
"We hope that talks can resume," a spokesman for Lufthansa said.
Lufthansa pilots have staged more than a dozen strikes since April last year to protest against plans by management to change retirement benefits and lower costs via expansion of a new budget carrier, Eurowings.
Last month, VC had offered concessions in a bid to end the pay dispute, including agreeing to an increase in the average retirement age and lowering costs.
VC said on Wednesday that Lufthansa had rejected the offer, which it said "shows that it's not about market conditions for Lufthansa, but rather about abandoning collective agreements and outsourcing jobs".
Lufthansa is grappling with an increased pension deficit against the backdrop of low interest rates. It says it needs to cut costs to halt a loss of market share to low-cost carriers in Europe and more nimble competitors such as Turkish Airlines and Emirates on long-haul routes.