Thu, Apr 03, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Thousands stranded after pilots’ walkout paralyzes Lufthansa

AFP, FRANKFURT, Germany

Pilots at German airline Lufthansa initiated a strike yesterday that has forced the carrier to cancel most of its flights over the next three days and grounded as many as 425,000 passengers.

The country’s biggest airline said it is to cancel about 3,800 flights yesterday, today and tomorrow as a result of the walkout by pilots who are demanding better pay and retirement conditions.

FALLOUT

In addition to Lufthansa’s passenger services, the strike, which began at midnight and will last until 11:59pm tomorrow, will also affect the airline’s Germanwings subsidiary and its freight carrier, Lufthansa Cargo.

Lufthansa said it has informed passengers via text message or e-mail about the flight changes and offered to book them onto other airlines.

About 60 flights were already canceled on Tuesday so that passengers changing planes in Germany would not find themselves stranded.

Germanwings on Tuesday said it planned to uphold about 600 connections over the three-day period by leasing capacity from other airlines.

THE ONLY WAY

Joerg Handwerg, the head of pilots’ union Cockpit, told local daily Neue Passauer Presse that the walkout was “the only means to force management to compromise” and a direct consequence of the company’s aggressive stance in seeking to extend pilots’ retirement age beyond the current age of 55.

The industrial action has angered many politicians, with German Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt saying in a newspaper interview that “every day of strike is impairing the mobility of hundreds of thousands of people.”

Michael Fuchs, deputy head of the parliamentary faction of the conservative, ruling Christian Democratic Union party, denounced the action as “irresponsible,” while the pilots have also received criticism from the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany.

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