* Union accepts Fraport offer of fresh talks
* Strike to end 2100 GMT Wednesday
* Around 174 flight cancellations on Wednesday
* Lufthansa says sales hit in high double-digit mln euros
* Lufthansa shares down 3 percent
(Recasts with union ending strike)
By Victoria Bryan
FRANKFURT, Feb 22 Five days of strikes at
Frankfurt airport, Europe's third busiest, will end on Wednesday
evening after the union agreed to start fresh pay talks for
around 200 workers.
The walkouts by ground crew who guide aircraft to parking
positions began last week and were due to continue until the
Airport operator Fraport earlier on Wednesday
wrote to the GdF union, proposing new talks without
preconditions, but only if the strike was called off.
The GdF, which wants higher pay and shorter working hours,
said it would end the strike at 2100 GMT and hoped to start new
talks with Fraport on Thursday.
Just over a thousand flights have been cancelled since last
Thursday, the vast majority of them from flagship carrier
Lufthansa, which has mostly scrapped European services
to give priority to intercontinental travellers.
Lufthansa accounts for more than half of flights
at the airport. It said the first four days of the strike have
so far cost it a high double-digit million euro sum in turnover.
Analysts previously estimated the first two strike days had
crimped turnover by about 40 million euros ($53 million).
Lufthansa had group revenue of 27 billion euros in 2010.
Lufthansa's shares have barely been affected so far but on
Wednesday were down 3.3 percent. Fraport said it has lost
turnover of around 7 million euros.
It expected around 174 cancellations from a total of 1,260
slights scheduled on Wednesday. The Lufthansa website showed
just over 140 cancelled flights on Wednesday.
More flights may have to be cancelled on Thursday as planes
are out of position, Fraport said.
Fraport Chief Executive Stefan Schulte said Fraport had the
support of Lufthansa, other airlines and airports, and did not
want to resort to legal measures to avoid aggravating the
The GdF was also involved in a bitter dispute over pay for
air traffic controllers last year that went to the courts and
ended with the transport ministry stepping in to force talks.
Fraport has been using former ground crew to replace
striking workers, with the number of flight cancellations
dropping each day as staff became used to the role again.
Fraport had said it will not agree to what it says are
"unreasonable" demands for pay rises of 50-70 percent for a
group making up only around 1 percent of its total workforce.
The union has said the workers' jobs have become more
complicated since a fourth runway came into operation.
An attempt at mediation in early February failed, with
Fraport rejecting the mediator's proposals, saying they went
beyond what the union had been demanding.
Frankfurt is Europe's third largest airport behind London
Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle in terms of passenger
($1 = 0.7539 euros)
(Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen and Maria Sheahan;
Editing by Mark Potter)