Lufthansa flights hit as crew start longest-ever strike
By Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen
BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote) canceled hundreds of flights on Friday and warned of more disruption on Saturday after a cabin crew union started a series of walkouts that could become the longest ever strike at the carrier.
On the first day of a planned week of protest over failed pension talks, flight attendants were instructed to strike at Frankfurt, Lufthansa's biggest hub, and Duesseldorf between 1300 and 2200 GMT (0900 and 1800 EDT), affecting about 37,500 passengers.
That will be followed by walkouts on short-haul flights from Frankfurt and all flights from Duesseldorf between 0500 GMT and 2200 GMT (0100 and 1800 EDT) on Saturday, the UFO union announced.
According to Lufthansa, that will result in about 520 short-haul flights being canceled that day, affecting 58,000 passengers.
For Friday, Lufthansa said it had canceled 290 planned flights including 15 long-haul departures, which are typically more profitable for carriers. Eight long-haul flights will still take off, it said.
The walkout comes after Lufthansa and the union failed to reach an agreement in a long-running row over early retirement benefits and pensions.
Lufthansa is trying to negotiate with various staff groups to bring down pension costs as part of a savings drive to allow it to compete better with low-cost rivals and wealthy Gulf carriers.
Should Lufthansa management not make concessions, the union will carry out a threat to stage more walkouts until Nov. 13, it said. Continued...