Lufthansa strike looms

BERLIN — The Cockpit pilots union
offered Saturday to meet with the chief of Lufthansa AG to try to head off a
four-day strike beginning Monday that could cause headaches for thousands of
travellers.

The union’s offer to meet with
Lufthansa Chief Executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber came after Germany’s transport
minister urged the two sides to return to talks and avoid a strike that could
damage the country’s economy.

Lufthansa said in a statement that
it is willing to talk with the pilots under conditions. It was not immediately
clear if the meeting would take place. Lufthansa has already cancelled some 600
flights ahead of the strike and is scrambling to rebook travellers on partner
airlines or trains.

“Lufthansa is doing everything in
its power to inform its customers as soon as possible and offer them
alternative travel options,” the company said on its website.

Travelers who are unable to
reschedule are being reimbursed for their tickets, it said.

The airline, Germany’s largest,
estimates the strike could cost it as much as $135.19 million.

The union is urging some 4,500
pilots who fly for Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings to walk off their
jobs from Feb. 22-25 to press the airline for job security for pilots in
Germany and abroad. Cockpit accuses the airline of outsourcing more flights to
pilots employed by other companies, who work for less and under worse
conditions.

Also Saturday, German Transport
Minister Peter Ramsauer warned the strike could seriously damage the German
economy.

“It can not be that the largest
German air fleet is grounded for four days,” Ramsauer said.

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