Lufthansa pilot strike starts Wednesday

Germanys biggest airline, Lufthansa, cancels over 3,800 flights due to 3-day pilot stike

Germanys biggest airline, Lufthansa, cancels over 3,800 flights due to 3-day pilot stike

BERLIN - Lufthansa pilots have deadlocked much of the air traffic in Germany Wednesday with the start of a comprehensive three-day strike, which is expected to affect at least 425,000 passengers.

At the airports, cancellations were clearly noticeable. In the terminals of many airports including Frankfurt and Munich, there was very little activity because most of the passengers had been informed in time.

The pilots union, Vereinigung Cockpit, which represents around 5,400 pilots, is holding the three-day strike over a long-running pay dispute and the preservation of an in-house early retirement agreement along with a 10 percent salary increase demand. 

This is likely to be the largest strike in Lufthansa’s history and the airline believes it will cost tens of millions of euros just for its Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and the company's low-cost carrier Germanwings passenger operations.

The striking pilots refused offers from the German airline company.

The pilots union spokesperson, Markus Wahl, spoke of a "bluff package."

"On the outside, Lufthansa is willing to talk. But the deals are always the same. For us, Lufthansa is clearly a wolf in sheep's clothing," he said. 

Wahl confirmed that the pilots are due to return to work after the end of the strike on Friday. "Should Lufthansa force us to strike again, we will do so," he said.

The airline called on the pilots union to return to the negotiating table and it said that they are considering their legal options, but they have admitted that the damage has already been done.

Lufthansa said it is expecting to operate 500 short and medium distance flights and will rebook other customers onto alternative airlines or trains.

In Frankfurt, 450 camp beds were set up in the transit area. Snacks and drinks were also available for those who could not travel. 

In addition to the affected passengers,  23 out of a planned 31 Lufthansa Cargo flights have been cancelled during the strike period. 

Lufthansa has been trying to cut costs amid tough competition from European budget carriers and the expansion of the state-owned Gulf airlines.

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