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Lufthansa pilot strike 'imminent'

Pilots for the German airline Lufthansa have announced their imminent intent to strike, after declaring contract talks at an impasse. The threat of strikes comes amid the peak of the European summer holidays.

Current talks with the company over pension issues have failed, the German pilots' "Cockpit" union, or VC, said late Friday. A union spokesman said stoppages could begin immediately, but promised to give enough notice to avoid leaving passengers stranded at airports.

No official dates for a strike were given.

The union, which represents roughly 5,400 staff, are demanding better pay and protesting against changes that would make it more difficult for pilots to take early retirement.

On Friday, the union said that despite the help of a moderator over the past few months the talks have failed. "We will now defend ourselves against the clear-cut that the company is planning," the union said in a statement.

Lufthansa management called the union's decision incomprehensible. "Lufthansa wants talks with all unions - including [VC] – to continue in the constructive atmosphere of the last few weeks," a statement from the company said.

The most recent work stoppage in April, the biggest in the company's history, caused 90 percent of Lufthansa flights to be cancelled. The airline said its losses from the three-day strike were in the tens of millions of dollars.

hc/av (Reuters, dpa)

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