Lufthansa Cuts 10 Percent of European Flights | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 30.07.2008
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Lufthansa Cuts 10 Percent of European Flights

German airline Lufthansa will cancel some 10 percent of its European flights as well as some long-haul services over the next five days in response to a pay strike by ground and cabin staff.

Display board at airport

The impact of the strike is set to grow

Europe's biggest airline issued a statement on Wednesday, July 30, saying that it was introducing a new flight schedule to keep disruptions for passengers to a minimum.

Speaking on the third day of the strike, Lufthansa said it would also adjust inter-continental flights.

Four long-haul trips to US destinations, and two flights to India and Dubai were already cancelled on Wednesday. In addition, some 70 shorter flights could not take off because the required aircraft had not received necessary maintenance, the company said.

Nine of the airline's fleet of 520 aircraft are out of action on short-haul routes.

Members of German trade union ver.di walk with banners through airport

Verdi are calling for a pay rise of almost 10 percent

The services union Verdi said about 5,000 workers had joined the strike Monday and Tuesday, causing the cancellation on Tuesday of 70 domestic and European flights. Verdi officials said that although Lufthansa has suffered relatively little up to now, they expect the strike's economic consequences to grow with time.

Strike will be costly

The mass-circulation German newspaper Bild reported Wednesday that the airline was taking measures to prevent further disruptions during the peak summer travel season. Those included having some of its aircraft maintained abroad and changing schedules to take aircraft out of the country by rotation.

Verdi has said its aim is to target Lufthansa financially by forcing it to resort to expensive measures like outsourcing maintenance and catering. Analysts has estimated the strike would cost Lufthansa 5 million euros ($7.9 million) a day.

Germany's BDI industry association called on the union to restart negotiations.

An employee of German airline Lufthansa wearing a T-shirt with the slogan I am not on strike standing in front of a flight schedule board

Not all Lufthansa employees have downed tools

"The strike is damaging air traffic, tourism, logistics and the whole economy," said BDI Managing Director Werner Schnappauf in a statement. "It is too much when some people push their interests with a strike without looking at the economic consequences."

Erhard Ott, who heads the pay negotiations on behalf of the union, told a rally in Frankfurt that Verdi would return to talks only after Lufthansa had made an improved offer.

Lufthansa posts profit

Lufthansa published preliminary half-year results Tuesday, showing a 45 percent rise in operating profits to 705 million euros on a rise in turnover of 20 percent to 12.1 billion euros.

Verdi is demanding 9.8 percent more pay for 50,000 Lufthansa workers. Pilots are not involved in the current strike. The airline is offering 6.7 percent more pay over a 21-month contract plus a one-time payment.

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