* Carrier, Ufo union reach preliminary deal on higher wages
* Aim to hammer out final pay accord in next 4 weeks -union
* Germanwings says "pushed envelope" with compromise offer
(Adds detail and background)
BAD HONNEF, Germany, July 6 Lufthansa's
budget carrier Germanwings will be spared painful
strikes during the nascent summer holiday season after reaching
a preliminary accord with cabin crew on higher wages.
An improved offer by management for up to 5.9 percent more
pay over two years, one-off payments of as much as 1,500 euros
($1,900) and a commitment to grant workers unlimited contracts
after the probation period broadly meets the Ufo labour union's
key demands, union chief Nicoley Baublies said on Saturday.
Both sides will use the compromise reached in all-night
talks to try to work out a detailed new wage contract over the
next four weeks, Baublies said at a news conference near Bonn.
The Independent Flight Attendants Organisation (UFO)
represents around 700 cabin crew at Germanwings. The union had
sought a 5 percent salary increase, fewer temporary working
contracts and the possibility for Germanwings cabin crew to
transfer to parent Lufthansa.
"We pushed the envelope with our offer," Germanwings
managing director Axel Schmidt said in a statement. "The
compromise very closely resembles the union's demands but it
doesn't jeopardise our competitiveness."
A strike would have hurt Lufthansa's move to cut costs at
its European short haul business, which had been losing money
due to competition from budget airlines EasyJet, Air
Berlin and Ryanair.
Ten of Germany's 16 federal states are on summer holidays,
usually lasting about 6 weeks per state.
Lufthansa in January transferred most of its European
short-haul flights to Germanwings, where costs are 20-30 percent
lower than Lufthansa's.
The Germanwings revamp is a major part of Lufthansa's
three-year overhaul to boost group operating profit by 1.5
billion euros ($1.95 billion) to 2.3 billion by 2015.
($1 = 0.7792 euros)
(Reporting by Peter Maushagen and Marilyn Gerlach; writing by
Andreas Cremer; editing by James Jukwey)