Lufthansa pilots strike

About 4,000 pilots at German
airline Lufthansa have gone on strike for four days in a dispute over job
security.

The carrier has cancelled about
3,000 flights and has warned of delays both domestically and internationally.

The strike has disrupted thousands
of passengers around the world, while the company tries to arrange alternative
travel for them.

The airline normally offers about
1,800 flights daily – of which 160 are long-haul trips.

Lufthansa has said about two-thirds
of flights will have to be cancelled during the strike.

It was also reported that the
company had asked a German court to halt the strike.

Lufthansa spokeswoman Claudia Lange
said an injunction had been filed in Frankfurt.

“This strike is disproportionate,”
she said. “We hope for a decision within the next 24 hours.”

Before the strike began, German
Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer warned that it would hurt the country’s
economy as well as Lufthansa’s reputation.

The airline – one of the worlds
largest – fears the strike could cost it about $34 million per day.

The pilots are not due to return to
work until midnight on Thursday.

The Cockpit union says the airline
is increasingly relying on foreign pilots who fly for less pay.

It is concerned that the company
could try to cut staff costs by shifting jobs to foreign subsidiaries such as
Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa Italia, where wages are lower.

The starting salary for a first
officer in a Lufthansa cockpit is $84,000 and $156,000 for a captain, according
to the company’s recruiting website

Cockpit has called for a 6.4 per
cent pay rise for pilots; more say in company decisions and commitments that
pilots would keep their jobs when Lufthansa moves passengers to cheaper foreign
affiliates.

We are open to talks without
preconditions,” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walther said.

He added that “if Cockpit
withdrew its list of unworkable and illegal demands… an agreement could be
found quickly”.

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