German airline Lufthansa has cancelled 800 flights as a pilots’ strike set for Friday devastates services.
About 130,000 passengers will be affected, roughly 7,000 of them booked on UK flights, in the latest strike to ground Lufthansa.
All 34 of Lufthansa’s services connecting London’s Heathrow Airport with Frankfurt and Munich are grounded, as are 11 flights between Manchester and Germany.
Michael Niggemann, the Lufthansa executive board member responsible for human resources, said the strike over pay was incomprehensible and defended the airline's “very good and socially balanced” offer.
The pilots’ 24-hour strike starting at midnight will ground both passenger and cargo services, the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union said.
VC is demanding a 5.5 per cent pay rise this year for its more than 5,000 pilots and automatic inflation compensation thereafter.
“We wanted to leave no stone unturned and offered another negotiation date despite an inadequate offer and failed negotiations,” said union spokesman Matthias Baier.
“We did not receive a sufficient offer today either. This is sobering and a missed opportunity. The negotiations have failed. The only thing left for us to do is to reinforce our demands with a labour dispute.”
Lufthansa has offered a total of €900 ($901.35) more in basic pay per month in two stages over an 18-month term as well as an agreement guaranteeing cockpit staff a minimum fleet size.
Strikes and staff shortages have already forced airlines including Lufthansa to cancel thousands of flights this summer and caused hours-long queues at major airports, frustrating holidaymakers keen to travel after Covid-19 lockdowns.
Lufthansa has also faced strikes this year by security workers and ground staff over pay.
Mr Niggemann said: “We cannot understand VC's call for a strike.
“The management has made a very good and socially balanced offer — despite the continuing burdens of the Covid crisis and uncertain prospects for the global economy.
“This escalation comes at the expense of many thousands of customers.”
The airline said it was doing everything possible to minimise the effects of Friday's strike, but it could not rule out cancellations or delays in some cases at the weekend.