German pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit has continued its strike for the third consecutive day and announced it would be extended over the weekend. Nearly 800 short and medium-haul Lufthansa flights were cancelled.
Lufthansa said 14,000 passengers faced cancellations or delays on Friday, as the German airline's main pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) disrupted flights by staging a strike in defense of "generous retirement benefits."
Some flights are continuing to take off with non-union crews, Michael Lambert, a Lufthansa spokesman said, and confirmed 790 of 1,400 scheduled flights on Friday have been cancelled.
Pilots justified the extension of the strike with their so-called "transition contracts," which allow them to retire at 55 while receiving up to 60 percent of their salary until they reach the legal retirement age of 65.
Cockpit has staged a series of walkouts over the past year, demanding that Lufthansa withdraw its decision to do away with such agreements.
Germany's flagship carrier said in a statement after the strike extension that is had already presented a better offer to the union this month but that it had been rejected.
"With the notice of a fourth strike in just one week, the pilots have not only escalated the labor dispute too far, they have removed themselves even farther from a solution," the company said.
Vereinigung Cockpit accused Lufthansa of intransigence but said a return to the negotiating table was possible anytime.
At the same time, the union has warned the airline that its 9,300 members could sustain its industrial campaign for years if necessary, in order to achieve demands.
Since April last year, the pilots' industrial action has so far cost Lufthansa about 220 million euros ($233.3 million).
If you are travelling with Lufthansa airlines today or over the weekend, you can check the status of your flight here.
jil/sb (dpa, AP)