Lufthansa to hold new wage talks

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Luthansa Reuters. A Lufthansa Airbus A380-800.

Frankfurt - German airline Lufthansa said it would meet with its pilots' union on Thursday to discuss union demands for an early retirement scheme and higher pay but had not revised its offer.

The aim of the meeting is to lay the groundwork for further negotiations, a spokesman for the German flagship carrier said on Tuesday.

“We will take up talks on the basis of the offer on the table. We are convinced it has enough substance to develop a solution,” the spokesman said.

Union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), which represents most of Lufthansa's 5,400 pilots, confirmed that the meeting was due to take place but declined further comment.

It had previously said it wanted to see a new offer from Lufthansa before starting talks.

Lufthansa's pilots staged a three-day strike last week - the longest walkout in the airline's history - to underline their demands.

The pilots want Lufthansa to reinstate a scheme that enabled them to receive 60 percent of their pay if they left their jobs before the legal retirement age.

The retirement age of pilots was raised in recent years following a European court ruling and now stands at 65.

Lufthansa terminated a previous transition agreement in the wake of that ruling.

Shortly before the strike, the carrier made an alternative proposal that would still have allowed pilots to retire early but this was rejected by the union.

Lufthansa is also negotiating with the pilots over a pay rise.

The carrier is in the middle of a restructuring programme, dubbed SCORE, which aims to improve operating profit by 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion) compared with 2011.

It has already agreed pay deals with ground staff and cabin crew, leaving the pilots as the final major staff group with which it has to reach agreement.

 

COSTLY STRIKE

The cost of last week's strike, which caused Europe's biggest airline to cancel 3,800 flights in total, would be in the high double-digit million euros, Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne told journalists late on Monday.

Previously, Lufthansa had talked of costs of between 35 million and 75 million euros ($48-$103 million).

Menne said the real damage would be longer term because it could put passengers off booking with the airline.

The CFO repeated comments that Lufthansa hoped to reach an agreement before the end of the Easter school holidays.

So far, the pilots have said they did not plan any action during the holidays.

The pilots' strike was the third to hit Lufthansa within six weeks after industrial action by security staff and public sector workers also affected German airports. - Reuters



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