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Business

Lufthansa strike disrupts long-haul flights

A renewed strike by Lufthansa pilots is causing massive disruptions of the German flagship carrier's flight schedule with long-haul operations now also affected until midnight. The Frankfurt hub is hit hardest.

Lufthansa pilots on Tuesday morning extended their renewed two-day strike to include long-haul fights to Asia, the US and other destinations.

The airline confirmed that a total of 1,511 flights would have to be cancelled during the labor action ending at midnight local time. It said some 166,000 passengers would be affected, adding that Germany's main hub, Frankfurt, was being hit hardest while only about half of all scheduled flights would be affected at Munich Airport.

Industrial action called by the pilots' Vereinigung Cockpit union (VC) has been going on since April over demands that Lufthansa management keep in place favorable early retirement arrangements whereby pilots can leave at the age of 55 and still receive 60 percent of their salaries before reaching the official retirement age.

Waning moral support

But Lufthansa managers want to raise the early retirement age to 60 for newly recruited pilots, arguing that it could no longer be expected to bear the huge costs of the earlier scheme amid large-scale restructuring aimed at cutting costs and making the carrier more competitive in the face of fierce competition from low-budget rivals.

The VC union told Reuters on Monday it would consider further strikes in the course of the week, should Lufthansa not come up with a decent compromise offer.

The succession of strikes by German Lufthansa pilots and Deutsche Bahn train drivers has seen companies and policy makers united in pushing for measures to curb the power of unions representing small groups of professionals in Europe's largest economy.

Lufthansa itself described the renewed strike as turning a country once famed for its efficiency and world-class exports into a standstill nation.

hg/ng (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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