Lufthansa pilot strike sparks long haul chaos as 1,511 flights are cancelled

 
Peter Maushagen
Lufthansa pilots are in a dispute over retirement benefits (Source: Getty)
Lufthansa has cancelled 1,511 flights as a result of a strike being held by pilots that runs until midnight today, a spokesman said yesterday.

It is the equivalent to around 65 per cent of the 2,333 flights it would normally operate during the strike.

Pilots’ union VC had initially planned to strike only on short-haul routes yesterday and today but yesterday extended the strike to include long-haul flights.

The walkout affecting long-haul flights adds weight to the eighth strike action taken by pilots against Lufthansa this year in a drawn-out dispute over retirement benefits.

Lufthansa on Sunday cancelled 1,450 flights after the pilots union called for a strike yesterday and today, adding to travellers’ misery in Germany after millions were left stranded by a weekend-long train drivers’ stoppage. Both pilots’ and train drivers' strikes hit at the start of half-term holidays in nearly half of Germany’s 16 federal states.

DZ Bank analyst Dirk Schlamp estimates the strikes would cut Lufthansa's earnings before interest and tax by €80m to €90m this year.

“A solution, however, is not yet apparent. Therefore, further strikes are possible,” he said.

The strikes come as the national airline is trying to expand low-cost operations that will allow it to compete more effectively with budget carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet on short-haul European routes.

VC, representing about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, is fighting to keep a scheme that allows pilots to retire at the age of 55 and still receive up to 60 percent of their pay before regular pension payments start at 65.

The union has proposed a plan to cover the costs of the scheme.

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