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Lufthansa pilot strike threatens weekend travel

Germany's pilots' union has warned of possible disruption to weekend travel plans as members working for national carrier Lufthansa embark on a six-hour strike. The action follows a Germanwings walkout last week.

The Vereinigung Cockpit union said on Friday that flights to German and European destinations from Lufthansa's chief hub Frankfurt would cease from 5 pm to 11 pm (1500 to 2100 UTC).

The union is demanding the reinstatement of a benefit allowing pilots to choose early retirement at the age 60, on partial pay. Lufthansa has said it wants all pilots who are medically fit to keep flying until they are 65. Pilots are also asking for a 10 percent pay rise.

A statement on the union's website said short and medium haul flights due for departure between the stated times would be hit by the strike. It specified that Lufthansa Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Embraer aircraft in particular would be affected. There was no mention of long-haul flights being affected.

"Vereinigung Cockpit declares that it is ready at anytime to reach an agreement to avert the strike," read the statement. "We regret any inconvenience to Lufthansa customers."

Lufthansa has criticized the timing of the strike - in particular the effect on business travelers heading home to other countries and Germans seeking a weekend getaway. It also said the timing would create additional administrative difficulties in dealing with rebookings.

The planned walkout follows a similar six-hour

strike last week by pilots from Lufthansa's budget subsidiary Germanwings

. More than 100 flights were canceled at several of Germany's main airports during that walkout.

rc/jr (AFP, dpa)

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