Lufthansa makes new offer to end costly pilots' strike

Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:43am EST
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By Peter Maushagen and Caroline Copley

BERLIN (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote) said it had made a new offer to try to break the deadlock in a long-running pay dispute with its pilots who have been on strike since Wednesday.

This week's walkout -- the 14th since early 2014 -- has already grounded some 2,600 planes and affected more than 315,000 passengers. Lufthansa has said the disruption has started to hit medium-term bookings.

Lufthansa said it had offered to increase wages by 4.4 percent in two installments, as well as a one-off payment equal to 1.8 months' pay.

The German airline also said it had offered to create 1,000 jobs for junior pilots and up to 600 pilot traineeships over the next five years. It said it could enter mediation talks with the union on Nov. 29.

In return, pilots would have to agree to a change to their pension scheme in which Lufthansa would only guarantee paid-in contributions. Cabin crew and ground staff have already agreed to these changes.

Bettina Volkens, head of human resources at the airline, said the changes would help the airline to save money.

Pilots had been threatening to extend the strike beyond Saturday, raising concerns among investors at the growing cost to the company and the wider impact on Europe's largest economy.

There was no immediate response from the Vereinigung Cockpit union. The union wants an average annual pay increase of 3.7 percent for 5,400 pilots in Germany over a five-year period backdated to 2012.   Continued...

Planes stand on the tarmac during a pilots strike of German airline Lufthansa at Frankfurt airport, Germany, November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski