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Eurowings: Strikes possible starting Thursday

The pay dispute between Lufthansa's budget carrier Eurowings and cabin crew is escalating. UFO, a union representing German flight attendants, has announced that passengers will have to brace themselves for strikes.

In a video announcement, UFO leader Nicoley Baublies said strikes could take place at any time for two weeks. UFO declared that talks with management had failed. The union says the public will be given due notice of the measures taken. Baublies emphasized that after those two weeks, indefinite walkouts would be called if necessary. UFO further announced that because Eurowings management refused to go to arbitration, the union had no choice but to take industrial action to achieve its aims.   

Eurowings employs some 2500 flight attendants. Its fleet consists of 90 medium-range aircraft, which fly mainly to smaller airports such as Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Berlin, but according to previous statements by the airline, only 23 jets would be affected by the strikes.  

The conflict between UFO and Eurowings has been simmering for two years. The core issues are working conditions and pay for flight attendants. Because the two sides were unable to reach agreement, UFO broke off negotiations in late September and has been threatening strikes since then. A subsequent attempt to reach agreement proved unsuccessful.   

In September, rival trade union Ver.di  organized a warning strike of flight crew at Eurowings Germany, which resulted in eight flights being cancelled. 

tko/ul/kle/ms  (afp, rtr, dpa)