Pilots ramp up pressure on Lufthansa with Friday strike threat
By Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen
FRANKFURT/BERLIN (Reuters) - Pilots at Lufthansa's (LHAG.DE: Quote) budget carrier said they would walk off the job on Friday if an agreement on an early retirement scheme is not reached, upping the pressure on the airline's management for talks planned on Thursday.
Like their colleagues in other Lufthansa units, the pilots at low-cost carrier Germanwings want the management to maintain the scheme that allows them to retire early at 55 and still keep some of their pay until they reach the age at which state pension payments start. [ID:nL5N0QW4F3]
Lufthansa and pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), which represents around 5,400 pilots at the airline, are due to return to the negotiating table later on Thursday. If talks fail to lead to an agreement, pilots at Germanwings will go on strike for six hours from 0400 GMT on Friday, VC said.
About 700 of the Lufthansa group's over 9,000 pilots work at Germanwings.
A spokeswoman for Lufthansa said the airline was looking into what impact Thursday's announcement would have on the talks with the union.
Pilots at Lufthansa held a three-day nationwide strike in April which grounded almost all the company's flights and wiped off 60 million euros ($79 million) from its first-half profits.
However the action was widely condemned across Germany as people criticized the demands of what many regard as a highly-paid group of workers. The pilot's union had said this week any subsequent strike was likely to be smaller, and for only a few hours at a time. [ID:nL5N0MV3L8]
Germanwings, which operates European short-haul flights outside of Lufthansa's Frankfurt and Munich hubs with a fleet of 52 aircraft, has 164 flights scheduled for the strike period and said it was working on a plan for the possible strike. Continued...