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Lufthansa Faces Pilots’ Strikes

May 14, 2001

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Lufthansa faced a possible pilots’ strike as the summer tourist season begins as Germany’s largest airline wrangled with pilots over pay.

Talks were rekindled Sunday, but Georg Fongern, a spokesman for the Vereinigung Cockpit union, said Monday no ``tangible result″ had emerged from the latest round of negotiations.

Striking pilots grounded more than 900 of 1,100 scheduled flights last Thursday, affecting tens of thousands of passengers and forcing Lufthansa to rebook many on other airlines and trains. Another 90 flights were scrubbed Friday.

The union, which represents about 80 percent of Lufthansa’s 4,200 pilots, has pledged to stage 24-hour strikes on Thursdays until an agreement is struck, and also threatened to step up the walkouts if progress isn’t made soon.

Pay talks between the two sides broke down last Wednesday, paving the way for Thursday’s strike. Pilots have rejected a 26 percent raise for 2001, saying that the inflation and profit-sharing increases that are part of the four-year contract offer can’t be guaranteed.

The union demands a 30-35 percent raise to be spread over a shorter time period that can be renegotiated more frequently.

Lufthansa said Saturday it was considering the possibility of claiming damages against the pilots’ union, a course of action urged by the German Shareholder Protection Association.

Germany’s biggest airline said the 24-hour walkout cost the company between $23 million and $32.2 million.

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