Trade union rules out strikes at Lufthansa over Easter

BERLIN Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:53am EDT

An airplane of German air carrier Lufthansa lands at the airline's main hub, the Fraport airport in Frankfurt, March 14 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

An airplane of German air carrier Lufthansa lands at the airline's main hub, the Fraport airport in Frankfurt, March 14 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

BERLIN (Reuters) - German trade union Verdi said Deutsche Lufthansa's (LHAG.DE) air traffic over Easter would not be disrupted by strikes in the ongoing wage dispute at Germany's largest airline.

The union said in a statement late on Friday that no agreement was reached in the latest round of talks and that another walkout was possible before the next round, which is due to start on April 17, but not over Easter.

The union's demands and Lufthansa's offers so far have been "far apart", Verdi said.

Lufthansa on Thursday had to cancel close to 40 percent of its flights as staff went on strike on the eve of wage talks with the German airline, which is trying to cut costs to compete with Middle East and low-cost carriers.

The strike had left exasperated passengers stranded as they waited in long lines snaking through Frankfurt airport's Terminal 1, the home of Lufthansa.

Efforts by big European airlines such as Lufthansa and Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) to shrink costs in the face of soaring jet fuel prices and fierce competition from Middle Eastern airlines and low-cost carriers have fanned tensions with workers.

Verdi is demanding a 5.2 percent pay rise for 33,000 cabin crew and ground staff at Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Systems, catering unit LSG Sky Chefs and ground crews. It also wants a commitment by Lufthansa to safeguard jobs.

Lufthansa, Europe's biggest airline by revenue, wants to freeze pay and get staff to work an hour more each week to help it to remain competitive.

($1 = 0.7722 euros)

(Reporting by Ralf Bode; writing by Ludwig Burger; editing by James Jukwey)

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