Thousands of passengers affected as Lufthansa strike action forces cancellation of flights


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The Independent Online

Thousands of passengers face a difficult day of disruption after Lufthansa cancelled the majority of its flights scheduled due to a strike over pay.

A stark statement on its website warned of “massive” delays and flight cancellations that will affect long-haul flights. Flights to and from airports including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dublin are to be cancelled. German airports affected include Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Hamburg.

The German airline said only about 20 of its flights would run today, out of more than 1,700 that are scheduled.

The strikes come amid continued anger over low pay and additional working hours, as the German carriers seeks to cut costs in the face of increased competition from low-cost and Middle Eastern airlines.

Last Friday the carrier rejected union demands for a 5.2 per cent wage increase over the next 12 months. Strikers are also looking for guarantees over job cuts. Short "warning strikes" are a common tactic among German unions, designed to put pressure on wage negotiations. A similar strike took place last month.

The move is being led by German services sector union ver.di, which has rejected the airline’s proposed 0.4-0.6 per cent wage increase over 12 months.

Lufthansa said in response that it would consider free alternative bookings.  A statement on its website said: “Lufthansa regrets any inconvenience to passengers caused by the threatened strike measures and will do its utmost to minimise impacts on passengers. Passenger support and service has paramount priority.”

Around 1,850 flights a day and flies from 14 British airports. Last year, the airline and a union representing cabin crews called in an arbitrator to settle a pay dispute after the union staged a series of short-term stoppages that caused numerous flight cancellations.