Pilots are set to cause Lufthansa and travellers more headaches into the weekend, after saying they intended to extend strike action until Saturday.
It started on Wednesday, after last-ditch efforts by the airline to secure an injunction from a German court failed, with 900 flights cancelled then and a further 912 today. Now the pilots' union has said it will continue industrial action into Saturday, affecting all long-haul flights from Germany.
Earlier today, Lufthansa was forced to cancel another 830 flights (these short- and medium-haul flights) after the union extended action to Friday. A special flight schedule is in place and 2,170 flights will go ahead as planned, though 100,000 passengers will still be affected.
"In total, over 315,000 passengers have been affected by the cancellation of 2,618 flights," Lufthansa said in its latest statement.
Harry Hohmeister, Chief Officer Hub Management of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said: "The status quo is that we pay our pilots significantly more than our competitors do. As members of the executive board, we are responsible for more than 120,000 employees and want to keep Lufthansa viable for the future. That will not be possible with a demand for a 20 per cent increase in pay."
The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union criticised comments suggesting that a pay increase for pilots would threaten the airline's existence, saying it was a "completely exaggerated dramatisation".
Read more: Lufthansa cabin crew call Monday strike
It added that it regretted the impact on "the passengers, cabin crew and ground staff concerned".
Pay talks between the VC and the German carrier broke down earlier this month, with the airline saying the union had "consistently rejected the offer" of mediation. The VC wants a 3.7 per cent pay rise for 5,400 pilots dating back to 2012; the airline offered a 2.5 per cent increase over the six years until 2019.
Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr expects the strikes to cost between €7m and €9m a day.