Lufthansa pilots to strike again on long-haul on Thursday

Tue Dec 2, 2014 4:58pm EST
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By Maria Sheahan and Peter Maushagen

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Pilots at Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHAG.DE: Quote) said they would strike again on Thursday on long-haul and cargo flights, after a two-day stoppage on Monday and Tuesday stranded thousands of travellers.

The union said in a statement that short and medium-haul flights and those of budget carrier Germanwings would not be affected by the action on Thursday.

The strike, the ninth this year in a dispute over an early retirement scheme, forced Germany's flagship airline to cancel close to half of all scheduled flights for Monday and Tuesday, affecting about 150,000 passengers.

Lufthansa is trying to squeeze its cost base to compete with low-cost carriers like Ryanair Plc (RYA.I: Quote) and easyJet Plc (EZJ.L: Quote), as well as Gulf airlines, but has met resistance from workers.

Pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), representing about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, is fighting to retain a scheme allowing pilots to retire at 55 and still receive up to 60 percent of their pay before regular pension payments start at 65.

"We cannot keep doing this for the next year or two, we need to sit down and find a solution," Lufthansa spokeswoman Barbara Schaedler told Reuters TV.

Pilots however showed no sign of backing down, with VC board member Joerg Handwerg telling Reuters it could continue its walkouts into next year.

Lufthansa has said it would not accept a demand that new pilots, as well as those already with the company, should be able to retire at 55.   Continued...

Planes of German flagship carrier Lufthansa are parked on tarmac at Munich's airport, December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder