Lufthansa cabin crew to extend strikes on Friday

Tue Sep 4, 2012 1:46pm EDT
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By Peter Maushagen and Victoria Bryan

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Lufthansa cabin crew will strike throughout Germany on Friday for a full 24 hours, upping the stakes in a row over pay and conditions that threatens to drag on for weeks and cost Germany's biggest airline tens of millions of euros.

Cabin crews walked out at Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin airports on Tuesday, forcing Lufthansa to cancel hundreds more flights following strike action on Friday that left 26,000 passengers stranded.

The UFO union said a Germany-wide strike would run from 0000-2400 CET (2200-2200 GMT) on Friday and union head Nicoley Baublies, speaking to a German broadcaster, called on Lufthansa to start mediation, a process that would halt the strikes.

Lufthansa repeated its earlier statement that it saw no reason for mediation. "The offer already made is reason enough to return to the negotiating table," a spokesman said.

Lufthansa, which operates from 16 airports in Germany, cancelled over 300 flights, or more than one in six of its daily total, on Tuesday.

"It is difficult for the company to cushion the impact. We cannot just get new flight attendants and the personnel buffer is limited," Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walther said.

Its Austrian Airlines unit, unaffected by the strikes because its staff are on separate contracts, said it was using larger aircraft on routes to Germany to help out its parent.

While Germany has a track record of mostly harmonious labor relations compared with other major European countries such as France, its airlines and airports have been hit by a string of disputes in recent years as companies battle to cut costs to cope with the rise of low-cost carriers, soaring fuel prices, fast-growing Middle East airlines and an air travel tax.   Continued...

An employee of German air carrier Lufthansa is seen through a window at a rebooking counter at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt, September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach