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Lufthansa pilots widen strike action to long-haul flights


Germany

Lufthansa pilots widen strike action to long-haul flights

Travel plans have gone from bad to worse for passengers in Germany.

After industrial action on the railways this weekend, striking Lufthansa pilots have widened their start-of-the-week walkout to include long-haul flights on Tuesday.

Only short and medium-haul routes had previously been targeted in the two-day strike in force from Monday lunchtime.

At Frankfurt airport, there’s frustration.

Taking a business trip to Berlin before planes are grounded, passenger Nadine Joerges was due to fly back on Monday night. Because of the strike however she has booked a train.

“We will get back to Frankfurt at around 11 p.m,” she said.

“And it will definitely be a long, tough day. My sympathy is limited.”

“It is annoying. It is really annoying,” said fellow passenger Rainer Dobbener.

“I have lost sympathy and I just can’t see why this is going ahead at passengers’ expense.”

This is the eighth time this year that pilots have taken strike action against Lufthansa in a drawn-out dispute over retirement benefits.

German pilots union 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.

Management, under pressure to reduce costs, has offered to keep the pension scheme for employees who joined the company before this year, but wants to increase the earliest possible retirement age for new recruits.

Over the next two days, as many Germans try to get away in half-term school holidays, nearly 1,500 flights have been cancelled with some 200,000 passengers due to be affected.

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