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UFO cancels planned Lufthansa strike

After progress in talks with Lufthansa executives, a planned strike by flight attendants has been postponed until mid-July at the earliest. At issue in the negotiations is the airline's pension scheme.

Germany's flight attendants' union UFO announced Tuesday it was canceling a strike it had announced for Wednesday after progress in negotiations with Lufthansa,

the country's largest carrier

.

Lufthansa had been facing a June 30 deadline to make concessions to cabin crew regarding pensions and pay or potentially deal with a strike during the busy summer holiday season.

UFO official Nicoley Baublies said early on Tuesday that any potential strike will now be pushed back until at least the middle of July.

"We must now see in the negotiations in the next weeks, whether it gets to the point where something can be signed that is really is a collective agreement that can permanently avert the strikes," Baublies told German news agency dpa.

Lufthansa had been in the midst of difficult negotiations with staff groups over cost cutting measures designed to help it compete with Gulf airline rivals and low-cost carriers. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told journalists Monday he was optimistic a deal with the flight attendants' union could be reached.

At issue in the negotiations is Lufthansa's pension program, which cost an estimated 3.7 billion euros ($4.1 billion) last year and which the airline says is unsustainable.

Cabin crew are able to take early retirement beginning at the age of 55 due to the toll of frequent flying. Lufthansa wants its cabin crew to contribute a greater portion of their salary to their pension, a proposal UFO has resisted.

UFO is holding out for higher pay and improved pensions and had threatened implementing a series of one-day strikes beginning on July 1 if Lufthansa did not make a better offer.

bw/jr (dpa, Reuters)

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