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Lufthansa crew return to work, but strike chaos lingers

Lufthansa cabin crews have returned to work at Frankfurt Airport as the airline continues to battle the effects of strike action. The airline was forced to cancel a further 18 flights on Saturday.

Some 200 flights were cancelled on Friday following the strike, stranding hundreds of passengers.

Although the strike ended on Friday afternoon, its effects were continuing to linger on Saturday as at least 1,000 passengers recovered from a night spent stranded in the departure lounge.

Airport staff provided camp beds for the unexpected guests, who according to Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty had been hoping to take a connecting flight out of Frankfurt when the strike hit early on Friday. They were then unable to leave the vicinity of the airport without a visa for their unscheduled overnight stay.

In a statement posted online, Lufthansa said it had to cancel a further 18 flights on Saturday.

Watch video 01:18

Flights cancelled as Lufthansa staff strike

Lufthansa cabin staff began their eight-hour work stoppage at 5 a.m local time. It forced the cancellation of 190 flights to and from Frankfurt. The majority of these involved domestic or European destinations.

A Lufthansa spokesman told reporters that 26,000 passengers had been affected by the work stoppage.

Lufthansa management appears to have been caught somewhat off guard by the scale of the strike, having planned for just 64 flight cancellations. At one point, Frankfurt Airport closed for incoming flights from other European airports due to a lack of parking space on the apron.

Further strike action not ruled out

The trade union that represents Lufthansa cabin crew, UFO, called for the walkout on Tuesday after negotiations with management about wages and staff policy failed. The union was seeking a five percent pay increase for cabin staff, as well as assurances from Lufthansa to stop the use of lower-paid temporary workers in cabin crews.

Speaking to ARD public television on Friday, UFO chairman Nicoley Baublies didn't rule out further strikes.

"That depends on the behavior of Lufthansa. ... We are ready to act at any moment, anywhere in Germany, by announcing our action six hours in advance," he said.

The union is seeking a 5 percent pay rise for its workers for a period of 15 months backdated to January of this year. Management has offered 3.5 percent.

ccp, pfd, jr/slk (DAPD, dpa, Reuters)

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