Lufthansa flights hit as crew begins week-long strike

Irish fans travelling to Bosnia for Euro play-off urged to make contact with officials

Cabin crews with German airline Lufthansa have begun a week of strikes with a nine-hour walkout in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf after talks with the airline broke down over retirement terms.

Flight attendants are stopping work at the two airports from 2pm-11pm on Friday, and for 17 hours on Saturday from 6am.

The halt in Frankfurt on Saturday is limited to services on single-aisle Airbus A320-series and Boeing 737 planes, according to the union UFO.

Irish fans travelling to Bosnia with the airline for next Friday’s European Championships play-off fixture have been urged to make contact with officials.

Lufthansa said it had cancelled 290 flights planned for Friday including 15 long-haul departures, which are typically more profitable for carriers. It affected around 37,500 passengers. Eight long-haul flights would still take off, it said.

More strike action can be expected on Saturday at Frankfurt, but Lufthansa’s other main hub in Munich will not be subject to walkouts until after Sunday, given school holidays in that region.

Lufthansa Group airlines Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Cityline will not be affected by the strike. That means that overall, the airlines group can carry out 90 percent of the 3,000 flights it typically operates on a Friday.

The walkout comes after Lufthansa and the union failed to reach an agreement in a long-running row over early retirement benefits and pensions.

Lufthansa is trying to negotiate with various staff groups to bring down pension costs as part of a savings drive to allow it to better compete with low-cost rivals and leaner Gulf carriers.

Should Lufthansa management not make concessions, the union will carry out a threat to stage more walkouts until November 13th, it said.

"We regret this course of action, but we see no alternative," union head Nicoley Baublies said.

Lufthansa shares were up almost three per cent on Friday, nearly recovering from Thursday, when they closed down 4 per cent after the union confirmed it would strike.

Equinet analyst Jochen Rothenbacher said strike costs could total €20 million ($21 million) a day, depending on the number of cancellations, giving a total of around €140 million should the union strike on seven days, as threatened.

Strikes by pilots have already cost Lufthansa €130 million so far this year.

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