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Lufthansa cancels hundreds of flights as pilots strike over wages

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) pilots went on strike on Friday, forcing the German airline to cancel hundreds of flights and leaving holidaymakers stranded.

The airline said it canceled about 800 flights at its main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich on Friday, affecting 130,000 passengers, and said it was doing everything in its power to minimize the impact of the strike.

The trade union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) called on more than 5,000 Lufthansa pilots to go on strike for 24 hours and said the latest wage negotiations had failed.

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Strikes and staff shortages have forced several airlines, including Lufthansa, to cancel thousands of flights already this summer, with long queues at major airports and after COVID-19 lockdowns. It’s frustrating for those who want to resume travel.

Passenger Leanne Dixon was due to fly from Johannesburg to Frankfurt via Frankfurt to Amsterdam, but the second leg of her flight was canceled before she left South Africa.

“Now, 16 hours later, I still have no email telling me why it happened or what to do next,” she said at Frankfurt Airport.

“Yesterday at Johannesburg airport there was a lot of confusion because I didn’t know if I should leave my luggage in Amsterdam or in Frankfurt.”

The VC union is demanding a 5.5% wage increase this year, followed by automatic inflation compensation, and better terms for novice pilots.

Lufthansa says VC demands will increase labor costs by 40% or about €900 million ($899 million) over the next two years.

The airline has proposed a total monthly base salary increase of €900 ($901.35) in two stages over 18 months. Senior position.

The VC’s demands are also on the back of soaring energy and food prices as Germany’s inflation hit its highest level in almost 50 years in August.read more

“I don’t think this (the strike) is appropriate. It’s a major travel season and a very short notice,” said Andrea Buklo-Adler at Frankfurt Airport. “Pilots are not low-income people. They certainly have not been hit as hard by the energy crisis and inflation as many others who have jobs every day.”

Last month, after strikes forced the company to cancel more than 1,000 flights, Lufthansa management agreed to negotiate wages with ground staff to avoid further strikes.

Lufthansa, which also faces a possible strike by pilots from its subsidiary Eurowings, which voted in favor of the strike, plans to hold a meeting with management next week.

($1 = 1.0016 Euro)

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Additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach. By Maria Sheahan.Editing by Bradley Perrette, Miranda Murray and Jane Merriman

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