Thousands of flights cancelled amid huge strike by Lufthansa pilots

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Thousands of flights cancelled amid huge strike by Lufthansa pilots

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Three days of disruption have begun for passengers of German airline Lufthansa whose pilots have gone on strike until Friday night in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Facing one of its biggest walkouts, the carrier has cancelled some 3,800 flights, thwarting travel plans for those who had been hoping to get away.

“The money which we have already paid for the train and bus in advance is probably gone. I can’t imagine that we will get it back or if we do, it will involve a lot of hassle,” said passenger Monika Hemke at Frankfurt Airport.

Lufthansa says 425,000 passengers will be affected.

Its main pilots’ union is pushing a demand for the airline to keep an early retirement scheme with a fund that allows members to stop flying at the age of 55.

“We are talking about very big sums here,” said Jörg Handwerg, a spokesman for the pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit.

“Lufthansa has more than a billion euros in the early retirement fund for colleagues, some of whom have worked for the company for 30 years. And now Lufthansa wants to get its hands on it, dissolve and absorb it, in order to distribute it as dividends.”

The company, which stands to lose tens of millions of euros in the strike, says it has done everything it can to make alternative travel arrangements for stranded passengers.