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German airline Lufthansa could be forced to cancel more than 200 flights today, due to a six-hour pilots’ strike that could affect up to 25,000 passengers.
The strike will impact on flights leaving Frankfurt airport between 1700 and 2300 (local time) later today (September 5).
The strike, by the Vereinigung Cockpit union, was called in protest at plans to change the current scheme in which pilots retire at 55 and retain some of their pay until they reach the state pension age.
The carrier, which had wanted to scrap the scheme entirely, wants to increase the average age at which its pilots retire to 61.
VC has said pilots should retain the option of retiring early at 55 due to exposure to the “stresses of the profession”.
"We will continue to strike until Lufthansa brings an end to the confrontational way in which they deal with staff," union official Joerg Handwerg told Reuters.
The union is also concerned about Lufthansa’s plans to tie pay rises to financial performance and are demanding that wages beat inflation. VC has turned down an offer by the airline to increase pay by more than 5 per cent over a period of about four years.
Lufthansa said in a statement that most flights leaving Frankfurt later on today will be affected.
“In order for flight operations to return to normal as quickly as possible after the end of the strike, individual flights from Frankfurt will have to be cancelled today, from 1.30 pm onwards and from 4.00 pm onwards the majority of domestic German and European flights scheduled to depart from Frankfurt will also be cancelled.”
Kay Kratky, member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board said due to the timing of the strike many business travellers’ plans will be affected.
“Since the strike was announced after 5 pm yesterday evening already, we have not been able to increase our Lufthansa call centre capacity in good time. However, we will now do everything within our power to minimize the impact of the strike on our passengers.”
A strike last week from Lufthansa’s budget airline Germanwings caused 116 flights to be cancelled and affected 15,000 passengers. The airline said it suffered “significant” financial losses due to the action.