File photo: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau.

Frankfurt - A cabin crew strike at German airline Lufthansa has led to the cancellation of around 1 300 flights hitting 180 000 passengers over the next two days, the company said on Wednesday.

On Thursday, 700 of 3 000 planned flights are to be cancelled, with 600 axed on Friday.

Lufthansa lost a bid to halt the strike at a Frankfurt labour court earlier on Wednesday but the company is appealing with a decision expected later in the day.

The court said the strike, organized by the Ufo trade union, could indeed take place after Lufthansa questioned its legality.

The majority of take-offs from Germany with LH flight numbers have been cancelled, including numerous intercontinental connections from its two hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

Swiss, Austrian, Edelweiss and Brussels Airlines are not affected despite being owned by Lufthansa, but German subsidiaries such as Eurowings could eventually be affected.

Ufo is demanding higher expenses and allowances for its approximately 21 000 Lufthansa flight attendants, as well as better access to regular employment for seasonal workers.

The airline had invited the union to talks but the Ufo vice chairman Daniel Flohr cancelled his participation at the meeting.

Lufthansa has already offered customers free rebooking options.

Airport operator Fraport, which owns Lufthansa's and Germany's biggest hub in Frankfurt, said it was in "crisis mode" to be able to deal with the strikes and would inform affected passengers as early as possible.

After an initial warning strike from Ufo at Lufthansa's four German subsidiaries last month, more than 100 flights were cancelled.

The last regular Ufo strike on the core Lufthansa brand dates back to 2015 and lasted a week, the longest in the company's history.

dpa