News24

Lufthansa cancels 800 flights

2010-02-22 11:45

Berlin – German airline Lufthansa cancelled about 800 flights on Monday, almost half its daily total, after more than 4 000 of its pilots began a four-day walkout.

The airline, Europe's biggest by sales, said that despite the strike organised by the Cockpit pilots union, it was maintaining many domestic flights and short-haul routes across Europe though many of its long-haul flights to the US, including New York and Denver, were cancelled.

Other flights to the US, including Newark, New Jersey, Dallas and Chicago were scheduled on Monday, as were flights to destinations in Africa, South America and Asia.

"Usually we have 1 800 flights a day," Deutsche Lufthansa AG said on Monday.

"For today, we foresee about 1 000 flights planned, but there may be more flights that could be cancelled during the day," the airline warned. It offers some 160 long-haul flights to destinations worldwide.

Pilots for Lufthansa Cargo and Lufthansa's low-budget subsidiary, Germanwings, are also taking part in the strike.

Operating several flights

Germanwings, based at Cologne-Bonn Airport, said it was operating several flights over the four-day period to destinations including Britain, Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy and Croatia, among others.

Lufthansa, based in Cologne, owns or holds significant stakes in airlines including Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines, JetBlue of the US and Britain's BMI. Those are not affected.

The pilots are seeking increased job security and want German labour conditions to apply to Lufthansa pilots hired abroad, in an effort to
prevent their jobs from migrating to neighbouring countries with cheaper conditions.

Lufthansa said that was not being considered.

"Not one job has been moved. No Lufthansa pilot's job has been scrapped and no job cuts are planned at the moment," said Christoph Franz, Lufthansa's deputy chairperson.

The airline said it was trying to rebook travellers on partner airlines or trains. Travellers unable to be rescheduled are being reimbursed for their tickets, it said.

The airline reached out to travellers online, too, posting a strike schedule on its Web site and offering updates on whether flights were cancelled or not on its Twitter feed.

The airline, Germany's largest, estimated the strike could cost it some €25m per day.