Lufthansa Union Suspends Pilot Strikes


German air-carrier Lufthansa AG revealed on Thursday it will have to abandon 830 flights on Friday following the pilot strikes on short-haul and mid-haul journeys departing Germany, as current walkout and travel disorder prolongs into the third day.

It wants an average annual pay increase of 3.7 per cent for 5,400 pilots in Germany over a five-year period backdated to 2012.

The union said the offer was not new as it had already been proposed to workers two months ago and it dismissed Lufthansa's statement on Friday as a "public relations move".

Lufthansa pilots part of the Vereinigung Cockpit (Cockpit Union) first walked out on Wednesday as part of ongoing pay disputes where more than 800 flights have already been canceled, affecting around 100,000 travelers. It said it could enter mediation talks with the union on November 29.

In return, pilots would have to agree to a change to their pension scheme in which Lufthansa would only guarantee paid-in contributions.

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.

Long-haul flights weren't affected Friday, but are being targeted Saturday.

The airline, which operates six days a week at Orlando International, said roughly 30,000 passengers will be affected by 137 flights canceled Saturday.

Lufthansa, which also faces opposition from cabin crew at Eurowings, who walked out Tuesday erasing 64 flights, has had to book 4,000 hotel rooms for stranded passengers and set up 400 camp beds at its Frankfurt hub for people due to catch connecting flights.

Lufthansa has put the cost of the stoppage at around $11m a day.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has said the carrier's future would be on the line if pilots' wages were raised to the level demanded. Lufthansa has scrapped nearly 2,800 flights as a result of the strike, disrupting travel for around 350,000 people.

Lufthansa has been battling a series of walkouts by both the pilots and cabin crew over the last two years, as it seeks to bring down costs to survive competition from budget rivals such as EasyJet and Ryanair.



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